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Pierre Duffaut 1924-2020

We regret to inform you that Pierre Duffaut passed away on September 11th in Paris. He was an esteemed colleague and a friend so it is with a heavy heart that we share this sad piece of news.

Pierre Duffaut graduated from the Saint-Etienne School of Mines (France) after which he joined the EDF (French Electrical Board) geological department in 1947. He worked there with a team of engineering geologists, carrying out field missions in the French Alps each summer. He supervised the construction of a dam in the French Pyrenees for two years, during which time the Malpasset dam disaster took place, in 1959.

Pierre Duffaut was already interested in hydropower reservoirs, underground works and slope stability so he immediately understood the necessity of rock mechanics in dam engineering. From this time onwards, he always argued for a combined approach between geology and rock mechanics, using his talents in geological observation and his knowledge of dam construction and design. In 1977 Pierre Duffaut moved to the BRGM (French Geological Survey) as a Head of Geotechnical Department.

Retired in 1981, he never stopped working, teaching, consulting and writing numerous publications, over 200. He launched and coordinated the first volume of the French Manual of Rock Mechanics. Visionary in the use of underground space, he imagined an underground city and promoted the development of large caverns.

He gave the 3rd ISRM Online Lecture on "Rock Mechanics - Lessons from Dams", a memorable lecture that you can watch here:

Pierre Duffaut was passionate about sharing his knowledge: he had a particular talent in engaging the next generation of engineers. His constant sense of humour, smile and laugh were infectious. With his passing, a piece of the early stages of rock mechanics passes with him. He will be dearly missed by the ISRM and French community of rock mechanics, as well as by the many friends he had.

Philippe Vaskou and French Committee for Rock Mechanics