No. 4 - December 2008


An invitation to SINOROCK 2009 in Hong Kong,
the 2009 ISRM International Symposium

The SINOROCK2009 Bulletin with updated information on programme, keynote speakers, short courses, registration and accommodation, etc. is now available. Click here to download it .

Details can also be found on the conference website at .

Looking forward to seeing you in Hong Kong in May 2009.


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

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Inauguration of the downloadable ISRM lecture series

Erik Eberhardt has kindly prepared the first set of downloadable ISRM Lectures on rock mechanics and rock engineering. These are based on the course he gives at the University of British Columbia in Canada and are presented in pdf form.

ISRM members can access these highly recommended lectures through the ISRM website ( ) by clicking on the ‘ISRM Lectures’ box on the home page.

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The ISRM News Journal

The ISRM publishes its hard copy News Journal once a year. Each issue contains a review of the ISRM activities in the previous year and a suite of focussed technical articles.

In the last published issue, Volume 10 for 2007, the focus of the articles was on Australian mining. In the next issue, Volume 11 for 2008, the technical article focus will be on the conservation of ancient monuments and sites, following the highly successful ISRM conference organised by Prof Li Zuixiong and held at Dunhuang in China in 2008.

The News Journal issues are available for download at the ISRM website ( ). The issue for 2009 will be available in February/March 2009.

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Survey on the ISRM - It's here!!!

The results from the recent survey of members have been analysed and dissected. Many of the results are unexpected; all will be useful for guiding the direction for the Society.

One of the survey questions asked members to highlight what they believed to be the BIG questions in Rock Mechanics still to be answered.

Members can view the survey results and their analysis (available after login).

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ISRM 1st annual technical and cultural field trip
Florence, Italy, 21-22 September 2009

September 21st - Carrara marble quarries
September 22nd - Etruscan and last century mines

Organisation is through the University of Florence: Prof. Geol. Massimo Coli, Dept. Earth Sciences, and Prof. Geol. Carlo Alberto Garzonio, Dept. of Restoration and Conservation of Architectural Heritage.

The first annual ISRM technical field trip will be held in September 2009 in Italy and will be devoted to the Carrara marble quarries and the historical quarrying and mining activities which have taken place in Tuscany since Etruscan times (about 700 B.C.).

The excursion will start from Florence. On the first day, we will visit the Carrara Marble quarries from which Michelangelo took the marble for his masterpieces; we will be both in large open pit and underground quarries. In the evening, there will be time for a technical talk-around-the-table. Overnight will be spent in Versilia.

The second day will be devoted to visiting the XXth century disused mine of Gavorrano, and the Etruscan and medieval mine of the San Silvestro site of the Metalliferous Hills National Park. We will be back in Florence for dinner.

For accompanying persons, a rich tourist package in and around Florence will be provided.

The number of participants will be fixed at a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 50. The fee for the Field Trip, all inclusive from Monday morning to Tuesday evening will be €300 for ISRM Members and €400 for non-Members.

Further details concerning registration will be announced nearer the event.

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Contraction in demand for workers in the Australian mining industry

As the old song said "What a difference a day makes". These words hark true for employment in the Australian mining industry.

For much of 2007 and 2008, most commentators were noting the massive demand for specialist in all areas of the mining industry and that this demand would continue to grow over the subsequent 10 year period. They also noted that the lack of qualified personnel was limiting growth in the industry.

All changed abruptly in November when the global financial "tsunami" swept over the industry.

Almost immediately demand for hard commodities, particularly coal and iron ore, begun to slow, China’s steel mills reduced production as their economy was reported to be deteriorating with growth rates predicted to be heading downwards, stockpiles of base metal around the world were growing, prices of some base metals begun to hit record lows and Europe, Japan and the US were said to be in, or heading into, recession.

Almost immediately mining companies and contractors begun laying off large numbers of personnel in an attempt to reduce operating costs and prop up rapidly downward spiralling share prices.

Rio Tinto announced it would attempt to divest itself of assets and would cut 14,000 jobs worldwide, In Australia, nearly 5,000 employed in the mining industry have lost their jobs. For example Queensland Macarthur Coal and Xstrata cut over 400 job jobs as coking coal prices collapse, Zinc miner, OZ Minerals, cut 135 contractors at its Century zinc mine northwest of Mt Isa and, in Broken Hill, silver lead and zinc miners, Perilya and CBH Resources, laid off over 900 workers.

Budgets have been slashed; particularly hard hit being those associated with exploration and the development of new projects; the latter also being hit by an immediate decrease in the availability of capital from traditional sources. Credit Suisse estimated that $US193 billion of mining projects around the world could be delayed -- $US25.2 billion of these being in Australia.

But who knows, in a year or two all of this doom and gloom may be looked upon as having been just a short term aberration; we can only but hope.

Tony Meyers
ISRM VP for Australasia

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Important aspects of petroleum reservoir and crustal permeability and strength at several kilometres depth (by N.R. Barton)

Reprinted with permission from the author. As published in the proceedings of the 5th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, Tehran, Iran, November 2008

1. Shear-wave splitting is conventionally thought to be caused by stress-aligned open micro-cracks, and/or by a set of stress aligned vertical fractures in a naturally fractured petroleum reservoir (NFR) context. There are other possibilities if two conjugate sets are present and each are under shear stress, for which there can be several scenarios.

2. This fractures-under-shear-stress model, certainly true in the case of domal or anticlinal NFR, is more consistent with geomechanics principles (and deep-well measurements) that indicate clearly that fractures under shear stress are better conductors of fluids.

3. Newly developed slickensides identified many years after exploration are evidence for such a shear-with-production mechanism at Norway's Ekofisk oil field , and were discretely modelled, yet hardly believed, prior to recognition, as production-related slickensiding.

4. If one of the shearing fracture sets is dominant, and with different strike, it would probably give detectable 4D seismic effects, such as rotation of both anisotropy and attenuation axes. Opening intra-bed fractures in subsiding overburdens could cause similar 4D rotation effects, if one set was dominant, as is usual.

5. Dynamic normal compliance B N is of similar magnitude, when inverted, to the pseudostatic normal stiffness Kn that is much researched in rock mechanics. The dynamic shear compliance B T may be strongly scale dependent, perhaps partly following the better known scale-effect trends for the pseudo-static shear stiffness Ks.

6. The shear resistances of permeable fracture sets that are under shear stress, are non-linear functions of effective normal stress. Wall roughness, rock strength, pre-peak dilation, and correct stress transformation, have each to be considered when back-analysing resisted m .

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Successful ARMS5 in Tehran, Iran

The 2008 Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, ARMS5, was held in Tehran, Iran, 25-28 November. This conference was also the 2008 ISRM International Symposium and during the 2 days preceding the Symposium the ISRM Board, Council and Commission meetings took place.

The Symposium, with the theme “New Horizons in Rock Mechanics – Developments and Applications” was organised by the Iranian Society for Rock Mechanics, under the leadership of Dr Abdolhadi Ghazvinian and of Dr Abbas Majdi.

The Symposium was a great success, having over 600 delegates, of which over 100 came from foreign countries. Highlights were the keynote lectures and the presentation by the Rocha medal winner. Preceding the Symposium two short courses were organised. Two volumes of proceedings and a CD with all the papers and lectures were published and are available from the Iranian Society for Rock Mechanics. Particularly successful was the technical exhibition, where a large number of Iranian and foreign companies showed their activities to the delegates.

The social programme included a visit to the National Library and a banquet. The Symposium was followed by a 1-day technical visit to the 1,000 MW Siah-Bisheh pumped storage hydroelectric project. The event culminated with a 5-day post-symposium tour visiting the highlights of Iranian history and culture.

The quality of the technical presentations, the excellent organisation and the unparalleled hospitality of the Iranian hosts, will be remembered for many years by all those that had the privilege to attend the 2008 ISRM International Symposium.

A video with the highlights of the conference can be seen here .

Luís Lamas
ISRM Secretary General

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The ISRM Council met in Tehran on 23 November

The ISRM held its Council meeting in Tehran, Iran, in conjunction with the 5th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium – AMRS 5 “New Horizons in Rock Mechanics – Developments and Applications”, organised by the Iranian Society for Rock Mechanics.

Click here to download the News Release with the main information.

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Dr Li Gang selected as Rocha Medal 2009 winner

Ten PhD theses from all over the world were short listed for the Rocha Medal 2009 of the ISRM, which distinguishes the best PhD thesis in Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering. The Award Committee decided to award this prize to the thesis "Experimental and Numerical Study for Stress Measurement by Jack Fracturing and Estimation of Stress Distribution in Rock Mass", presented by Dr Li Gang, from China, to the Yamaguchi University in Japan. He will receive the award at the 2009 ISRM International Symposium in Hong Kong.

Click here to go to the Rocha Medal page , where the CVs and Summaries of the winning theses are available.

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ARMS 6, in New Delhi, India, selected as the 2010 ISRM International Symposium

The Indian National Group of the ISRM and the Central Board for Irrigation an Power, will host the International Symposium on Advances in Rock Engineering, which will be the 2010 Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, ARMS-6. The conference will take place in New Delhi, 23-27 October 2010. The ISRM Council approved this conference as the 2010 ISRM International Symposium. Click here to go to the conference page .

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Four nominations received for ISRM President 2011-2015

The deadline for submission of applications for President of the ISRM for the 2011-2015 period was 18 November. There are four candidates (in alphabetical order of country):

  • Phil Dight of Australia,
  • Xia-Ting Feng of China,
  • Claus Erichsen of Germany,
  • Francois Heuze of the USA.

The election will take place at the Hong Kong Council meeting in May 2009. More information on the candidates will soon be available on the ISRM website.

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ISRM sponsored meetings

  • 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
  • 23-27 October, New Delhi, India - ARMS 6 – International Symposium on Advances in Rock Engineering: the 2010 ISRM International Symposium
  • 16-21 October 2011, Beijing, China – ISRM 12th International Congress on Rock Mechanics: the 2011 ISRM International Congress

Click here to view the list of ISRM Sponsored Conferences .

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