The Eurocode for Geotechnical Design, EN-1997-1:2004, informally known as Eurocode 7 or EC7, was fully implemented within the European Union in 2010. This Eurocode is part of the suite of Structural Eurocodes, and thus embraces the limit state design principles common to the suite.
When development of EC7 began, it was planned that the code would apply mainly to the design of buildings and bridge foundations. Since then its scope has expanded, such that it now encompasses all geotechnical engineering design, including rock engineering. However, it is now widely recognised that EC7 is in many ways inappropriate – and in some circumstances inapplicable – to rock engineering. There seems to be many reasons for this, but one critical reason may be that there has never been any formal input to the development of EC7 from an appropriate rock mechanics organisation such as ISRM. This is a significant omission, particularly as the ISSMGE – and its forerunner the ISSMFE – has been formally involved with the development of EC7 since the mid 1970s.
In recognition that all codes must continue to evolve in order to remain applicable, and the long time that such evolution takes, the European Committee for Standardisation, CEN, requires all codes to be subject to continual review. All of the Structural Eurocodes entered a phase of Systematic Review in March 2014, and it is anticipated that major modifications to EC7 will be identified and proposed during the period 2015‑2018, with the revised code being adopted in 2019. As a precursor to this Systematic Review, in early 2011 the CEN technical sub-committee responsible for EC7, generally known by its CEN identifier of CEN/TC250/SC7, established thirteen Evolution Groups to commence a review of the Code, and one of these Evolution Groups was assigned to reviewing the Code with respect to rock mechanics. The Evolution Group currently comprises 13 members (the proposed Commission Members shown above, with J.P. Harrison as the Group’s Convenor), drawn widely from European countries, and both meets regularly using internet conferencing and interacts strongly with the other Evolution Groups. In addition, it has organised the first ever one-day workshop on the applicability and application of EC7 to rock engineering design, to be held at the Eurock 2014 conference in Vigo, Spain.
Commencing in 2015 a number of Project Teams, contracted to CEN, will commence the formal revision of EC7. At this time the Evolution Groups will begin to be disbanded. In recognition that EC7 is of critical importance to rock engineering design in Europe (and potentially Worldwide), that EC7 suffers from having had little – if any – input from the ISRM to date, and to continue the momentum established since 2011 by the rock mechanics Evolution Group, this proposal is being made to establish an ISRM Commission for the Evolution of Eurocode 7. It is anticipated that the Commission will effectively mirror the related Technical Committees of ISSMGE.
Purpose of the Commission
The principal purpose of the Commission will be to liaise with CEN/TC250/SC7 in order to help further develop EC7 with regard to rock engineering design. Additionally, and in support of this liaison, it will: (i) identify those rock engineering design approaches that are best suited to the limit state paradigm embodied within the structural Eurocodes, (ii) identify those areas in which current rock engineering practice should develop in order to better align with limit state design, and (iii) disseminate these findings to the membership of the Society.
Continuing with the model adopted by the Evolution Group for rock mechanics, the Commission will: (i) liaise with CEN/TC250/SC7 in order to both present the needs of rock engineering design with regards to EC7 and ensure the rock engineering community is generally fully informed of developments to EC7; (ii) meet regularly using internet‑based conferencing facilities; (iii) produce those reports as may be necessary to support (i); (iv) continue to organise and facilitate workshops on EC7 at European and other international conferences and symposia, and (v) liaise as appropriate with the relevant Technical Committees of the ISSMGE.
Product of the Commission
The tangible products of the Commission will be many and varied, and will comprise
- as part of its liaison with CEN/TC250/SC7, reports on specific aspects of the evolution of EC7 with regard to rock engineering design;
- workshops on the application and applicability of EC7 to rock engineering design;
- reports to the ISRM membership on the use and evolution of EC7 with regard to rock engineering design.
In addition, a key product of the Commission will be direct involvement of the ISRM in the future evolution of EC7.