No. 3 - September 2008


Welcome to the 5th ARMS, in Tehran:
the 2008 ISRM International Symposium

On behalf of the organizing committee and Iranian Society for Rock Mechanics, National Group of ISRM, we take this opportunity to invite you to participate in the 2008 ISRM International Symposium in Tehran, 24 to 26 November 2008. The ISRM Council and Commissions meetings will take place on 23 November.

A large number of papers was approved. The technical programme will include a series of keynote lectures by welknown experts. For more information about Iran and the Symposium please visit the following web sites:

Symposium website: or
Some Iranian tourist websites:

Dr. Abdolhadi Ghazvinian

Dr. Abbas Majdi

Honorary Symposium Chairman,
and ISRM Vice President for Asia

Symposium Chairman, and President,
Iranian Society for Rock Mechanics

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Last issue of the News Journal is now being distributed

Since the last Issue of this ISRM News Journal, there has been a change of the ISRM Board, from the old 2003-2007 Board to the new 2007-2011 Board — which has occasioned an associated change in Editorship of the Journal. Now the News Journal is edited by myself, with assistance from Nuno Grossman, Luis Lamas and Susana Guerra, all from the LNEC in Lisbon.

Each year, there will be one hard copy ISRM News Journal and several electronic ISRM Newsletters. All of them can be viewed on the ISRM website.

The Board‘s main thrust during our tenure in 2007-2011 is "Modernisation of the ISRM". We are determined to enhance the benefits to Members and we are vigorously implementing a variety of improvements, including:

  • expanding the website,
  • making more literature available,
  • identifying the major technical issues,
  • focussing the content of the ISRM Interna-tional Symposia,
  • increasing the recognition of Members‘ achievements through an increase in the prizes available,
  • proposing Lecture Tours and access to educational material,
  • increasing interaction with other Societies, &
  • better communication with Members.

We do hope that you will enjoy this new format ISRM News Journal and that you will stay in touch! To download this and previous numbers of the News Journal follow the link:

John A. Hudson,
President, ISRM

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Survey on the ISRM - preliminary summary of the results

The results from the recent survey of members have been analysed. They provide us with the first insight into who our members are and what they would like from their Society. The survey comprised 34 questions, 26 of which were for members, the others being for non-members.

A total of 396 survey responses were received from members which represents a 7.5% response rate. The members were asked to answer 23 multiple choice and 3 short answer questions. A total of 1716 comments were obtained for the latter questions.

The responses, and the implications of them for the future direction of the Society, are now being reviewed by the Board. We will issue our members with these details when the review is completed. However in the meantime here is a snapshot of some of the results.

  • Europe and South America, with the greatest and least numbers of members respectively, generated the greatest and least numbers of responses respectively. This result was expected. However, while approximately 16% of members from South America completed the survey, only 5% of members from Europe did so.
  • Over 55% of the respondents are aged between 30 and 50 with the age distribution being skewed significantly towards the older ages. Most respondents are highly experienced with over 61% having worked in rock mechanics for over 11 years and 32% having greater than 20 years of experience.
  • 93% of the respondents were male. The disproportionate number of men is not unexpected; it reflects the general international statistics indicating a lack of woman in engineering and geo-sciences.
  • 78% of respondents have a postgraduate qualification (i.e. a qualification other than their first degree).
  • 93% of the responders carry out projects in civil construction and tunnelling; areas traditionally associated with rock mechanics.
  • 43% of the projects carried out by respondents involve the mining industry. A smaller, yet still significant proportion (3%) of projects, are involved within the nuclear and energy generation industries.
  • The most significant reasons why members join and remain in the Society are:
    - The ability to establish contacts within the discipline.
    - The ability to obtain benefits not available to non-members.
    - Members find it useful to participate in ISRM activities.

A more detailed analysis will be posted online in the form of a report and the conclusions will help shape the future initiatives of the society.

Tony Meyers
Vice-President for Australasia, ISRM

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Crazy Horse memorial

Under the heading of ‘Interesting Rock Engineering Project Objectives’ is the Crazy Horse Memorial, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA. It is the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. When completed, it will be 641 feet long and 563 feet high. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began this undertaking in 1948 at the invitation of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, who wanted a monument to honor the warrior and hero, Crazy Horse. Work on the mountain carving continues year-round, with hundreds of tons of rock being removed weekly. Shaping of the colossal horse’s head is now the main focus of the work and extends 300 feet below the top of the sculpture – see photos.

A visit is definitely recommended. For more information visit the website at .

Crazy Horse Memorial

John Hudson,
with help from Ace Crawford
of the Crazy Horse Memorial Project.

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ISRM Board Member wins prestigious Chinese Academy of Engineering prize

As reported in the latest Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering News Journal (Issue 2 of 2008), Professor Feng Xia-Ting, of the Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Vice-President-at-Large of the ISRM, has been awarded the “Guanhua Engineering Science and Technology Prize” by the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The prize winners are selected by the Academy Fellows from the many candidate nominations, and the Guanhua Prize is awarded once every two years to eight ‘young engineers’ from all branches of engineering science and technology from all over China.

Congratulations to Professor Feng for the prize winning achievement and we thank him for promoting the status of rock mechanics in this way.

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Report on the 1st South American Symposium on Rock Excavations, Bogota, Colombia

The Colombian ISRM NG, Colombian Geotechnical Society organized the 1st South American Symposium on Rock Excavations (ISSAER), together with the XII Colombian Geotechnical Conference (XIICCG), at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, from 1st to 4th of September, 2008. The events were also supported by the Colombian National Mining Institute (INGEOMINAS) and the Colombian Engineers Society (SCI).

There were eight specially invited lecturers: Nick Barton (UK-Brazil), Gernot Beer (Austria- U. of Graz), Carlos Carranza (Argentina-USA- U. of Minnesota). Tarsicio B. Celestino (Brazil- U. of Sao Paulo); Gianfranco Perri (Venezuela- U. Central, Caracas), Antonio Samaniego (Peru- Catholic U. of Peru, Lima) and from Colombia, Antonio Marulanda (INGETEC) and Ricardo Barbosa (Engineering Solutions, USA). Each one of the invited lecturers delivered two lectures and N. Barton gave an additional one on the Pinheiros Accident in the Metro of Sao Paulo.

Topics covered in 30 papers for ISSAER were: basic rock properties, underground excavations and rock slopes. Themes for XIICCG were more varied and included in 46 papers. Almost all the papers were presented in the four sessions and discussions, on each one of the four days of the events (a complete list can be seen at ). A small technical exhibition was also displayed.

198 persons attended the two events, including the 8 invited lecturers, 50 students and 36 persons from 13 countries outside Colombia (Argentine, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, U.K. and Venezuela) and they considered the events as technically very useful and also very successful.

Alvaro J. González-García
President, SCG
Vice President for South America, ISRM

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Report on the 1st SHIRMS, Perth, Australia

The First Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium (SHIRMS) was held in Perth Australia from the 16th to the 19th of September. The ISRM supported event was organised by The Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG) and co-chaired by Yves Potvin (ACG), Arcady Dyskin (University of Western Australia), John Carter (University of Newcastle) and Rob Jeffrey (CSIRO Petroleum).

The Sheraton Hotel provided high standard facilities which included a main ballroom for the keynote presentations, two smaller rooms for the parallel sessions and a room for the high standard meals and the booths for the sponsors (RioTinto, BHPBilliton, Geovert, Adam Technology, BOSFA, Coffey, CSIRO, Datgel Data Solutions, Geobrugg, Geofabrics Australasia, Geotechnical Systems Australia, Geomechanics International, Inflatable Packers International, Maccaferri and Rock Australia).

27% of the approximately 240 attendees came from overseas including Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, UK and USA..A generous 33% discount on the registration fee was provided to ISRM members.

102 papers were accepted for inclusion. The presentations fell into the categories:

  • Petroleum reservoir mechanics, injection, production, fractures and wellbore mechanics 14
  • Numerical modelling 11
  • Constitutive relationships and effective characteristics 9
  • Rock mechanics data 8
  • Slopes 8
  • Underground mining rock mechanics including seismicity 10
  • Risk, rockfall and ground support 6
  • Fracture, damage and yielding of rocks 5
  • Caving 5
  • Civil tunnelling 4
  • Rock foundations and subsidence 4
  • Seismicity in mining 4

Keynote presentations were given and/or prepared by

  • Ted Brown (Australia) presented by David Starr; Estimating the Mechanical Properties of Rock Masses
  • Peter Cundall (USA); Quantifying the size effect of rock mass strength
  • Maurice Dusseault (Canada); Geomechanics and Transport Process in Petroleum Engineering
  • Peter Kaiser (Canada); Rock Mechanics Challenges in Underground Construction and Mining
  • Alex Mendecki (South Africa); Forecasting Seismic Hazards in Mines
  • Philip Pells (Australia); Assessing Parameters for Computations in Rock Mechanics
  • Sergei Stranchits (Germany); Acoustic Emission Analysis of Initiation and Propagation of Faults in Brittle
  • Rock and Compaction Bands in Porous Rocks
  • Boris Tarasov (Australia); New Insights into the Nature of Shear Rupture in Pristine Rocks and Pre-Existing Faults

Tony Meyers
Vice President for Australasia, ISRM

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Successful ISRM Regional Symposium in Dunhuang, China

The ISRM Regional Symposium on the Conservation of Ancient Sites was held in Dunhuang in China from 22-24 September 2008. In addition to the ISRM, the Symposium was sponsored by the Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering, Dunhuang Academy and Lanzhou University. It was organised by Professor Li Zuixiong of the Dunhuang Academy with about 150 participants attending. Professor Li is also the President of the ISRM Commission on the Preservation of Ancient Sites.

The Mogao Grottoes (left), John A Hudson, the ISRM President, congratulating Xian Hui, the Governor of Gansu Province, China, on the highly successful ISRM Regional Conference (right).

The Symposium venue, near Dunhuang on the ancient Silk Road, is at the site of the world famous grottoes – which are caves excavated in soft conglomerate with the walls painted in Buddhist themes. The Mogao Grottoes, also known as Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, represent nearly a thousand years of Buddhist cave-temple architecture, clay sculpture, mural paintings, and manuscripts, dating from the 5th to the 14th centuries.

John A. Hudson,
President, ISRM

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Successful San Francisco 2008 Symposium

Joint 42nd US Rock Mechanics Symposium and 2nd US-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium, Sponsored by ARMA and CARMA, 29 June – 2 July 2008.

This Symposium was a great success having about 350 registrants and an excellent technical programme. It was held in the Westin Hotel on 3rd Street in downtown San Francisco. The Chair of the Organising Committee was Sarah Wilson of Jacobs Associates who will be succeeding David Yale of ExxonMobil Upstream Research as the new President of ARMA (American Rock Mechanics Association). Peter Smeallie, ARMA’s Executive Director, was the Symposium Co-ordinator.

The Symposium was preceded by Short Courses, Workshops and a Field Trip. Highlights were the Keynote talks, which included one by Kevin Lesko on the proposed DUSEL (Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at Homestake Mine in the USA) and another by Mark Zoback on scientific drilling into the San Andreas Fault. A particularly advantageous aspect of these US Symposia is the strict adherence to the timing of presentations during the parallel sessions, so that one can change sessions and be sure to attend selected talks, because they are exactly on time. At the Symposium Banquet, the first 10 ARMA Fellows were inducted – chosen by their distinguished service to ARMA and the rock mechanics community.

John Hudson, President of ISRM and a Life Member of ARMA, attended not only the Symposium but also a portion of the associated ARMA Board Meeting where useful discussions were held on enhancing the ARMA-ISRM interaction.

John Hudson
President, ISRM

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The 10th Chinese National Congress on Rock Mechanics and Engineering

The 10th Chinese National Congress on Rock Mechanics and Engineering was held on July 28-30, 2008 at International Conference Center of Shandong University in Weihai, a peaceful beach city at the eastern China. The biennial Congress was sponsored by the Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering, and organized by Shandong University and State Key Laboratory of Geomechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

About 450 scientists and engineers in hydropower, mining, geology, civil engineering, transportation, environment protection works from all over China, including Taiwan, Hong Kong attended the meeting. Five fellows of Chinese Academy gave keynote speech. The 25 invited lectures and many presentations were presented on relevant subjects in rock mechanics and engineering.
Three special sessions about rock mechanics methods, underground engineering, and disasters mitigation were organized during the Congress. One of the important subjects was about the Ms8.2 Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008. Some experts gave the report for the epicenter field of earthquake and engineering disasters such as landslide. The methods and technologies for disasters mitigation have been discussed.

After three days meeting, many attendees showed enthusiasm and satisfaction with the Congress success.
Chinese National Congress on Rock Mechanics and Engineering is held every two years. The 11th Chinese National Congress on Rock Mechanics and Engineering will be organized by State Key Laboratory of Geomechanics and Geotechnical Engineering and Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, China

Wenli Xu and Xia-Ting Feng

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Commission on Radioactive Waste Disposal holds conference in China

Professor Wang Ju, President of the ISRM Commission on Radioactive Waste Disposal organised an outstanding meeting about the subject on 24 and 25 September 2008 in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. The presentations covering the whole disposal subject area from waste canister conditions right through to performance and safety assessement. There were 68 papers presented and 130 participants attended, including the ISRM President.

The meeting also included a 2-day site visit to Beishan in the Gobi Desert which is one of the potential sites for the Chinese disposal repository. There the site geology, the granite borehole cores and the borehole data were studied, see photos bellow.

Gobi desert terrain (left) and cores from a borehole at the Beishan potential repository site (right).

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Mine Closure Commission report now available

Members of the commission on one of several underground inspections of old mines

Commission members study mine plans prior to an underground inspection

A sinkhole resulting from the collapse of old mine workings

Some commission members on an inspection of the ancient mining underneath the city of Paris

The final report of the Commission on Mine Closure under the presidency of Christophe Didier of INERIS, France, has now been completed and is available to members of the ISRM. For download click here .

Several countries have a legacy of old, closed mines that now pose certain problems and in extreme cases, even danger to the public. The commission was set up to study the problem in international context and to propose a uniform method of handling the problem.

This work concentrated on the physical rock related aspects of mine closure and did not for instance include the social aspects in depth. The main problems arising from the closed mines relate to time dependant failure of old pillars or even overburdens spanning old works, resulting in surface subsidence.

The subsidence problems can be severe in certain cases, like the unexpected and sudden appearance of sinkholes on the surface. In other cases, the subsidence occurs over large areas over long periods of time and is easier to manage.

The report describes the mine closure situation in several countries, including ones not commonly associated with problems arising from the failure of abandoned mines like Japan and Korea. It is a reference work that describes different methods of handling the problem in different countries, including the legislative aspects.

Direct and indirect monitoring methods are described, as are technical methods of stabilizing old workings or protecting the public against the reopening of old mine shafts.

The report recommends a comprehensive risk management approach to handle the problem. Differentiation is made between gradual subsidence and sudden events. Depending on the nature of the expected effects, different reactions can be identified, ranging from doing nothing except to handle minor effects as they appear, to back filling old mines or even evacuation of villages in extreme cases.

The commission is currently in dialogue with the ISRM Board to extend the work of the first report, mainly to include countries that did not participate in the first commission.

The commission members contributing to the compilation of the final report were:

  • C. Didier, INERIS, France
  • J.N. Van der Merwe, University of Pretoria, RSA
  • Ö. Aydan, Tokaï University, Japan
  • M. Bétournay, CANMET, Canada
  • J.P. Josien, Geoderis, France 
  • A. Kotyrba, GIG, Poland 
  • M. Mainz, Heitfeld-Schetelig GmbH, Germany
  • W.K. Song, Korean Institue of Geosciences, Korea

Nielen Van der Merwe
Past-President, ISRM
Mine Closure Commission member

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Three new ISRM Commissions were approved

The ISRM commissions study scientific and technical matters of topical interest to the Society. Since the publication of the last newsletter, in June, three new ISRM Commissions were approved for the period 2007-2011. The new commisions and their Presidents are:

This brings the ISRM to eight working commissions, with the o ther five Commissions being:

For proposing the creation of a Commission, the proposed Commission President shall fill up an application form and send it to the ISRM President.

If you are a member of the ISRM and wish to participate in the work of any of the Commissions please contact the Commission President.

To get further informtion on the ISRM Commissions, click here to go to the ISRM website.

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Rocha Medal 2010 - nominations to be received by 31 December 2008

An invitation is being extended to the whole Rock Mechanics community, for nomination for the Rocha Medal 2010. This prize is annually awarded by the ISRM for an outstanding doctoral thesis in Rock Mechanics. Nominations shall be received by the ISRM Secretary General not later than 31 December 2008.

For detailed information visit the ISRM website or download the announcement .

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ISRM sponsored meetings

  • 1-4 September 2008, Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia – 1st South American Symposium on Rock Excavations: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 16-19 September 2008, Perth, Australia – 1st Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium (SHIRMS 2008): an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 21-24 September 2008, Dunhuang, China – International Symposium on Conservation of Ancient Sites 2008: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 24 -26 November 2008, Tehran, Iran – 5th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium (ARMS 2008): the 2008 ISRM International Symposium
  • 19-22 May 2009, Hong Kong, China – SINOROCK 2009: the 2009 ISRM International Symposium
  • 29-31 October 2009, Dubrovnik-Cavtat, Croatia – EUROCK'2009 – Rock Engineering in Difficult Ground Conditions - Soft Rocks and Karst: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 23-25 June 2010, Lausanne, Switzerland – EUROCK'2010 – ISRM Regional Symposium of Rock Mechanics: an ISRM Regional Symposium
  • 16-21 October 2011, Beijing, China – ISRM 12th International Congress on Rock Mechanics: the 2011 ISRM International Congress

To view the list of ISRM Sponsored Conferencences, please click here .

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Update on the SINOROCK Symposium:
Hong Kong, 19-22 May 2009

ISRM International Symposium on Rock Mechanics “Rock Characterization, Modelling and Engineering Design Methods”. Venue: Hong Kong University (HKU). Website: .

5 03 abstracts were received for SINOROCK2009, of which about half have now been accepted (emails to abstract submitters were sent out at the end of September 2008). The ISRM Board and Council meetings will be held at HKU immediately before the Symposium. Also, Short Courses to precede the Symposium are now being planned on:

  • structural geology interpretation of rock fractures for improved rock mechanics characterisation;
  • the role and activities of expert witnesses;
  • the use of Itasca codes;
  • laser scanning of rock surfaces.

This will be the second SINOROCK symposium (the first one was held at the Three Gorges Dam Project site in China in 2004). There will be an excellent set of Keynote Lectures to start the sessions. There will be a Best Paper Prize and Best Young Person’s Paper Prize (< 35 years old), an Exhibition, a specially designed Accompanying Persons’ programme, and a range of good, competitively priced accommodation, with student rates.

John A Hudson, Xia-Ting Feng & George Tham
(SINOROCK Co-Chairmen)

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Update on EUROCK'2009: Dubrovnik-Cavtat, Croatia, 29-31 October

The Croatian Geotechnical Society is proud to organize the ISRM Regional Symposium EUROCK’2009 to be held in Cavtat-Dubrovnik on 29-31 October 2009.

The Symposium themes are the following:

  1. Geological and hydrogeological properties of karst regions
  2. Rock properties, testing methods and site characterization
  3. Design Methods and analysis
  4. Monitoring and back analysis
  5. Excavation and support
  6. Environmental aspects of geotechnical engineering in karst regions
  7. Case Histories

A list of keynotes (still to be completed) is already available. Visit the Website at for up to date information on the conference

  • Stresses in Rock Masses by John A. Hudson
  • Tunnelling in overstressed rock by Evert Hoek and Paul G. Marinos
  • Rock engineering for structures in unstable slopes by Heinz Brandl
  • Interpretation of the geological reasons for a major metro station collapse by Nick Barton
  • Innovative tunnelling construction method to cope with squeezing at Saint Martin La Porte Access Adit (Lyon-Torino Base Tunnel) by Giovanni Barla
  • Time-dependent phenomena in Tunnelling by Georgios Anagnostou

The 1st Bulletin will be published on 15 October and the deadline for submission of Abstracts is 15 January.

We look forward to seeing you in Dubrovnik in October 2009!

Ivan Vrkljan
EUROCK'2009 Chairman

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WBI-International Shortcourse

The WBI-International Shortcourse on Rock Mechanics, Stability and Design of Tunnels and Slopes will take place at the WBI Head Office in Aachen, Germany, from 27 to 30 November. The course, in its 5th edition, will cover the following topics:

  • Jointed Rock: Mechanics, Hydraulics, Investigation;
  • Stability Analyses for Tunnels and Slopes in Rock;
  • Design and Case Histories.

The course will be held in english and the speakers are: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Walter Wittke, Dr.-Ing. Claus Erichsen, Bauass. Dr.-Ing. Bettina Wittke-Schmittm, Dr.-Ing. Patricia Wittke-Gattermann and Dr.-Ing. Martin Wittke. For registration and more information, visit

Claus Erichsen,
Vice-President at Large, ISRM

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