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No. 1 - March 2008


Message from the President

To: ISRM Newsletter Readers

The start of this Newsletter is one manifestation of the ISRM Board’s current major modernisation programme, and the other advantages will be apparent very quickly. We are
- improving the benefits to Members,
- improving the website ( ),
- developing a digital library of papers, books, ppt presentations,
- identifying the major technical issues in rock mechanics and rock engineering,
- enhancing the content of ISRM Symposia,
- increasing the number of ISRM prizes,
- promoting lecture tours and dissemination of educational materials,
- increasing our interaction with other Societies, and
- enhancing communication with Members.
All these items will be implemented in the months ahead and we will keep you informed via future issues of this Newsletter.

The Editor of this Newsletter is Luís Lamas, Secretary-General of the ISRM. If you have any contributions that you consider will be of interest to readers, please send them to Luís at .

John A Hudson
President, ISRM

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Survey on the ISRM

We would like to know more about our members and about those that have contact with us by visiting the website and by subscribing to this Newsletter. We would also like to know what you value most from our activities and what would you like us to offer to you.

For that purpose we are preparing a survey that you will receive in your email in a few days. We invite you to fill in and to send it to us.

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ISRM Congress in Lisbon, July 2007

The International Society for Rock Mechanics held its 11th Congress “The Second Half Century of Rock Mechanics” in Lisbon, Portugal, from 9 to 13 July 2007, organised by the Portuguese Geotechnical Society. The Congress was attended by over 500 rock mechanics practitioners from all over the world.

The programme included plenary and parallel sessions on the 7 Congress themes, plus 10 specialised sessions organized in cooperation with the ISRM Commissions and National Groups, and one joint session ITA-ISRM. Prof. E.T. Brown delivered the Müller Lecture ( click here to download the presentation). For more information on the Congress click here .

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News from the Council meeting

The ISRM Council met in Lisbon immediately before the Congress, on 8 July 2007. It was attended by 34 of the 48 National Groups and by 6 Past Presidents.

Membership of the ISRM
The ISRM has now 5380 individual members and 135 corporate members, belonging to 48 National Groups. This represents an increase of 13% in the number of individual members during the past 4 years, and the highest number of National Groups ever in the ISRM. The President welcomed Indonesia, which was recently admitted to the ISRM and was for the first time represented in the Council meeting.

Ammendments of the ISRM Statutes and By-laws
The Council approved the major revision to the ISRM Statutes and By-laws proposed by the Board, which brings them in line with current practice. Major changes have to do with the election of the President, selection of the Congress and with publication of the News Journal, which has now one annual issue in hard copy and will be complemented by this electronic Newsletter. For the complete set of ISRM Statutes and By-laws
click here .

Reports were presented on the activities of the following Commissions, Interest Groups and Joint Technical Committees:
- Application of Geophysics to Rock Engineering,
- Case Histories,
- Education,
- Maintenance and Repair of Underground Structuctures in Rock Masses,
- Mine Closure,
- Testing Methods,
- Interest Group on Underground Waste Disposal,
- JTC2, Representation of Geo-Engng Data in Electronic Form,
- JTC7, Soft Rocks and Indurated Soils.

Maria de Lurdes retires from the ISRM
Mrs Maria de Lurdes Eusébio, Executive Secretary of the ISRM, requested to leave her post after serving the Society for 40 years and will be replaced next October. Maria de Lurdes has attended all 41 Council meetings since 1967 and worked with all Presidents of the ISRM with the exception of the first one. The President thanked her for her efficiency and friendliness, and the Council approved by acclamation a vote of appreciation for her dedication to the Society.

The ISRM Board for 2003-2007 finishes its term
The President of the ISRM thanked the members of the Board for their contribution to the ISRM and wished the newly elected Board great success in their work. The 1st Vice President, Dr Claus Erichsen, thanked Professor Nielen van der Merwe for his excellent coordination work as President of the ISRM during the past 4 years.

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New Board of the ISRM for 2007-2011

Following the election, in 2005, of Prof. John Hudson as President of the Board of the ISRM for the term 2007-2011, the Council elected the 6 regional Vice Presidents. The President also appointed 2 Vice-presidents at Large. The new Board has the following members:
- President: John Hudson (UK)
- 1st VP and VP for Europe: Nuno Grosmann (Portugal)
- VP for Africa: Francois Malan (South Africa)
- VP for Asia: Abdolhadi Ghazvinian (Iran)
- VP for Australasia: Anthony Meyers (Australia)
- VP for North America: Derek Martin (Canada)
- VP for South America: Alvaro Gonzalez (Colombia)
- VP at Large: Feng Xia-ting (China)
- VP at Large: Claus Erichsen (China)
- Secretary General: Luís Lamas (Portugal)

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FIGS was officially launched

Following the previous approval by the IAEG and the ISRM, the Council of the ISSMGE approved, last October, the Cooperation Agreement for formation of the Federation of the International Geo-Engineering Societies - FIGS. The role of the Federation is to carry out functions for the international geo-engineering community that could not be carried out with the same effectiveness and efficiency by the Members individually. The Federation is founded on the principle that each of the participating associations/societies will retain its identity and autonomy.

The inaugural meeting of FIGS took place in London, on 25 January 2008 (see photo). The activity developed until now was reviewed. The main achievement so far has been to form 7 Joint Technical Committees (JTCs) with members from the 3 societies, which are already working. Another 4 JTCs are now being established. With the formal start of operation of FIGS it is expected that its activities will be significantly increased during 2008.

Following a procedure approved at that meeting, Prof. William van Impe was elected the President of FIGS for 2008-2011.

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Memorandum of Understanding signed with ITA

The ITA and the ISRM signed a Memorandum of Understanding having in mind the future cooperation between the two organizations, namely the participation in each other’s conferences and working groups. The first activity was a joint session organised during the ISRM 11th Congress, in Lisbon, on "Innovations in Underground Construction".

A follow up meeting took place in London, last January, between the Presidents and the Secretaries General of the 2 societies. It was decided to create an ITA-ISRM Joint Action Group on "Site Investigation Strategy for Rock Tunnels", which shall have the task to prepare a Guidance Document. Participation of ITA members in some ISRM Commissions and of ISRM members in ITA Working Groups is being implemented.

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Blue Book - the complete ISRM Suggested Methods

The book "The Complete ISRM Suggested Methods for Rock Characterization, Testing and Monitoring: 1974-2006" was launched during the 11th ISRM Congress in Lisbon. The "Blue Book" was Edited by Professors Resat Ulusay and John Hudson.

The book was published by the ISRM Turkish National Group and can be purchased from them and also from the ISRM Secretariat (see Products and Publications on the website).

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ISRM Website - the ISRM slide collection is now online

The website has become the main source of information about the ISRM and most benefits are offered to the members in a password protected members’ area. The website receives each month over 140,000 hits and 12,000 visits from 90 countries.

The ISRM slide collection, which was donated by the Past President Prof. John Franklin, is now available on-line for free download to ISRM members. Click here  to go to the ISRM website.

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Rocha Medal

The Board decided to award the Rocha Medal 2008 to Dr Liang Zhengzhao, for his Doctoral thesis entitled “Three Dimensional Numerical Modelling of Rock Failure Process”, obtained at the North-Western University, in China. He will receive the award at the 2008 ISRM International Symposium in Tehran, Iran.

Applications for the Rocha medal 2009 are open until 31 March 2008. Click here  for more information.

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Research on pillar strength in South Africa

On a recent visit to the Eastern Free State region of South Africa, the ISRM Vice President for Africa Dr Malan stumbled upon this interesting “mushroom” rock formation. This area is known for its beautiful landscape and rock formations created by the erosion of the Clarens formation sandstones and have become a popular alternative tourist destination in South Africa. The base of the mushroom was an approximate rectangular shape reminiscence of a slender pillar with a high width to height ratio. It was a most unfortunate discovery as a rock engineer on holiday does not necessarily want to solve pillar strength problems!

A stability analysis of the feature will be presented in the next issue of the ISRM News Journal. The factor of safety obtained for this “pillar” still appears very large and provided a strong wind does not topple it, visitors should be able to enjoy this interesting formation for many years to come!

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Nature's in situ shear test

These photos were taken by our Vice President for North America Prof. Derek Martin, during one of his hiking trips last summer in the rocky mountains south of Banff, Alberta. The hiking trail follows the valley and encounters a relatively recent rock slide. The slide has occurred in thick beds of limestone. As the other photos show nature has a simple way of testing for limiting equilibrium. In the close up slide, a tension crack appears to separate the bed and raises the question: does the tension crack occur first and allow the block to slip, or does the block slip first which creates the tension crack?

Perhaps our members will have an answer?

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Water transfer tunnels for the Jinping II hydro-electric power station, China

The largest water tunnels for a hydraulic power station are being constructed in China with overburdens up to 2,500 m (see the geological section). There are four tunnels, each 16.67 km in length, with 60 m spacing between them. Two are 13 m in diameter, excavated using blasting, and the other two are 12.4 m in diameter, excavated using TBMs. They are being excavated in marble, sandstone and slate strata. Construction started in August 2007 and will be finished in 2012.

Xia-Ting Feng, Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, Wuhan, China, and ISRM Vice President at Large.

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Australian mining boom creates strong demand for rock mechanics professionals

The past few years have seen growth of up to 29% p.a. in output from Australia’s mining industry. In 2007-08 the “metals” and “other minerals” industries (not including petroleum) are forecast to contribute nearly $67 billion to Australian exports. Mineral commodities, for which export earnings are forecast to increase, include iron ore, gold and nickel.

Although there are currently approximately 110,000 people employed within the industry there is still a significant shortage of skilled workers at all levels in all professions. This shortage is a significant impediment to the further profitability and growth. At an individual company level, some companies have experienced a turnover in staff of up to 25% p.a. The associated dilution in “corporate memory” and decrease in the continuity in the management of minerals projects has been problematical.

The shortage in personnel has also applied to rock mechanics professionals for whom there has been a strong demand from both minerals and civil companies. Hearsay evidence indicates that the shortage has necessitated that inexperienced or unsuitable candidates have been required to take on roles or projects that would once have been filled by more experienced senior professionals. The challenges these demands have placed on members of the rock mechanics community have, over the past few years, resulted in a strong increase in colleagueship between them.

With a forecast demand for up to 70,000 workers in the minerals industry over the next decade, and a strong demand for rock mechanics professionals, the related challenges to the growth of the industry are expected to increase. This growth is however a direct function of the strength of the world economy. As there are considerable downside risks surrounding its short term outlook, associated with the recent weakening in global credit markets, growth may be stymied by any decrease in demand by overseas countries for Australia’s mineral products.

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ISRM sponsored meetings

  • 31 March - 3 April 2008, Cape Town, South Africa – 6th International Symposium on Ground Support in Mining & Civil Engineering Construction: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 28 June - 2 July 2008, San Francisco, California, USA – U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium San Francisco 2008: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 1 - 2 September 2008, Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia – 1st South American Symposium on Rock Excavations: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 21 - 24 September 2008, Dunhuang, China – International Symposium on Conservation of Ancient Sites (ISCAS-2008): an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 24 - 26 November 2008, Teheran, Iran – 5th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium (ARMS 5): the 2008 ISRM International Symposium
  • 19 - 22 May 2009, Hong Kong, China – SINOROCK 2009: the 2009 ISRM International Symposium
  • 15 - 17 September (or 23 - 25 June) 2009, Lausanne, Switzerland – Symposium on Rock Mechanics: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 29 -31 October 2009, Dubrovnik-Cavtat, Croatia – Rock Engineering in Difficult Ground Conditions, Soft Rocks and Karst: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 16 - 21 October 2011, Beijing, China – Harmonizing Rock Mechanics and the Environment: the 12th ISRM International Congress.

For more information on the forthcoming events sponsored by the ISRM,  click here to go to the ISRM website.

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ARMS 5 in Tehran - the 2008 ISRM International Symposium

On behalf of the organizing committee and Iranian Society for Rock Mechanics (IRSRM), ISRM (National Group), we have great pleasure to invite you to attend the ISRM International Symposium 2008, 5th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium (ARMS5) which will be held in Tehran, 24-26 November 2008. The objective of this symposium is to provide a forum for the scholars, researchers, professionals, contractors and all those involved and interested to meet for the exchange of the experiences of the latest developments and progress made in Rock Mechanics and in Rock Engineering projects from around the world. Therefore, committee assures picky and high prolific events for the participants.

Organizing committee has selected Tehran as the venue in terms of its being a cultural paradise and capital city with illustrious historical monuments like Niavaran and Saadabad Royal Palaces, Azadi and Milad Towers, traditional handicrafts museums and many others. Apart from presentations and discussions, a post conference study tour will be scheduled to visit historical and technical sites at various attractive places around the country.

Accommodations will be arranged in ancient and luxury hotels with Iranian delicacies. It is an honor to serve you in the best possible way to make your stay pleasant and interesting. We will appreciate your positive and favorable response to our invitation.

Dr. Abdolhadi Ghazvinian, Chairman and ISRM Vice President for Asia
Dr. Abbas Majdi, Secretary-General and Symposium Chairman
( )

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SINOROCK 2009, University of Hong Kong
the 2009 ISRM International Symposium
Call for Abstracts

On behalf of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM), we invite you to submit an abstract for the next SINOROCK Symposium to be held at The University of Hong Kong from 19-22 May 2009. This will be the main ISRM Symposium for 2009 and the ISRM Board, Commission and Council meetings will be held on the 17&18 May immediately preceding the Symposium itself.

The theme of SINOROCK2009 is “Rock Characterisation, Modelling and Engineering Design Methods” and papers on all related topics are welcomed.

Abstracts should be in English, should clearly explain the content of the proposed paper and be fewer than 400 words long. The abstract should include the title, authors, authors’ affiliation, corresponding author’s tel/fax and email contact numbers, and the abstract text. Abstracts and papers should be submitted as .doc or .pdf files. Please send abstracts before 31 May 2008 by email (in a .doc or .pdf file) to this email address: . Title your abstract file with your family name followed by the first letters of the first three words in the title.

Xia-Ting Feng, John A Hudson, George Tham (Symposium Co-Chairmen)
Alan Kwong (Symposium Secretary)
( )

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Extra-terrestrial rock mechanics at SINOROCK 2009

Are you unworldly enough to tackle extra-terrestrial rock mechanics?

For almost 50 years now, the ISRM has studied rock mechanics on Earth – but do all the fundamentals that we have developed also apply on the planets?

Wanted: a theoretician to go through the fundamentals of rock mechanics and establish whether they all apply out of this world – and to give a report at the SINOROCK 2009 international ISRM symposium at the University of Hong Kong in May 2009. Hopefully, Newton’s Laws apply. What about poroelasticity? What about the Hoek-Brown failure criterion?!

Volunteers please contact John Hudson at .

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6th International Symposium on Ground Support in Mining & Civil Engineering Construction
An ISRM Regional Symposium

This International Symposium is being organised jointly by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) and the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering (SANIRE). The symposium will take place at the Tablebay Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa, 30 March - 3 April 2008. Previous symposia on this specialist subject have been held in:
• 1983 in Luleå, Sweden
• 1992 in Sudbury, Canada
• 1997 in Lillehammer, Norway
• 1999 in Kalgoorlie, Australia
• 2004 in Perth, Australia

Ground support is used extensively in both civil and mining environments, but commonly there is insufficient interaction between these two disciplines. In both fields significant developments in ground support take place regularly, and miners have much to learn from their civil colleagues and vice versa.

Local technical site visits will be arranged. There will also be post-symposium visits to a deep-level mine and to tunnels and excavations for the Gautrain, the mass transit system that is under construction in the Johannesburg-Pretoria area.
( )

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The 42nd U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium and 2nd U.S.-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium

The 42nd U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium and 2nd U.S.-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium sponsored by the American Rock Mechanics Association in conjunction with the Canadian Rock Mechanics Association will be held June 29 - July 2, 2008 at The Westin San Francisco Market Street, San Francisco, CA.
( ).

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1st South American Symposium on Rock Excavations (ISSRE) - an ISRM Regional Symposium

The Colombian Geotechnical Society (SCG) is pleased to invite the national and the international technical community to the 1st South American Symposium on Rock Excavations (ISSRE) and the XII Colombian Geotechnical Congress. The events will take place at Los Andes University, Bogotá City, Colombia. 1-4 September 2008.

Tunnel design and construction, underground excavations and big open pit mines have great importance in Latin America, because of the impact of this type of works on modernization and competitiveness of developing countries. For this reason, the SCG has considered interesting for the next years events, particularly for ISSRE, to treat topics related to Geology, Geotechnics, Hydraulics, Iluminatin and Ventilation linked to tunnel construction and other rock excavations, taking into consideration all stages, such as Design, Construction, Maintenance and Operation.
( )

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International Symposium on Conservation of Ancient Sites 2008 (ISCAS-2008)
an ISRM Regional Symposium

The Symposium will take place in Dunhuang, China, from 22-24 September 2008, and is co-sponsored by the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM), Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering (CSRME), Dunhuang Academy, China, and Lanzhou University.

The overall objective of the Symposium is to demonstrate the latest advances and achievements over the past years and to provide a forum for the discussions on the future development in this field.

Dunhuang, a famous World Cultural Heritage site, is abundant in both historical and tourist resources. September is the best occasion to enjoy the true atmosphere of Dunhuang.

Click here to download the second announcement.

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1st Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium

The Australian Centre for Geomechanics is presenting the 1st Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium (SHIRMS) in Perth, Australia, in September 2008. Following the model of the "Canada-US Rock Mechanics Symposium", the ACG aims to create a similar forum involving the very active South American, South African, Asian, New Zealand and Australian Rock Mechanics communities. Information about the event can be found at .

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XXIX Kersten Lecture by Dr Evert Hoek

Dr Evert Hoek will be giving the XXIX Kersten Lecture for the University of Minnesota 56th Annual Geotechnical Engineering Conference to be held on Friday, February 29, 2008. The Lecture titled "Integration of geotechnical and structural design in tunnelling" will be freely available from in early March.

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© 2008 ISRM        Editor: Luís Lamas        Webmaster: Ricardo Resende

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