This issue of Australian Geomechanics presents some of the papers of the 2012 Australia New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics (ANZ 2012) that are of particular interest to the Australasia region and that were highly ranked by the conference paper reviewers. The Australia New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics is the regional conference of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and is held approximately every 4 years.
The first ANZ Conference on Geomechanics was held in Melbourne, Australia, on 9-13 August, 1971. It was sponsored by the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS), recently formed, and the New Zealand National Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, both technical units of the Australian and New Zealand Institutions of Engineers, respectively. There were 85 listed authors. Nine authors presented more than one paper at that time, showing promise of high productivity and true commitment to the field: Bill Bamford, Ted Davis, Charles Gerrard, Peter James, Geoff Just, Marcis Kurzeme, Peter Moore, Harry Poulos and Len Walker. We recognise these names today for their contributions to the discipline.
Bill Bamford and John Styles today remember that the meeting was the first in the region to use the title “Geomechanics”, embracing rock mechanics, engineering geology and soil mechanics and welcomed major participation from the mining industry as well as the traditional civil engineering. For many young engineers who attended it was the first time to meet people they knew only as authors of technical papers and were able to benefit from discussing issues, gaining insights as well as thinking beyond problem solving.
ANZ 2012 focused on “Ground Engineering in a Changing World”. The spirit of the theme of the 1st ANZ, “Geomechanics – A Tool in National Development,” was still embraced. However, the world has changed and the conference encompassed a more comprehensive ground engineering aspect. Ground engineers are learning to react to climate change, financial systems change, legislative change, clients’ sophistication change, not to mention the tremendous technological changes. The ANZ 2012 conference aimed to explore and better understand these changes and the risks and opportunities they present to the profession.
The main themes of the 11th ANZ conference were:
- Supporting our Structures
- Evolving Geotechnics and Site Characterisation
- Mining and Underground Geotechnics
- Sustainable Geotechnics and Geo-Environmental Engineering (in a Resource Hungry World)
- Near-shore and Off-shore Geotechnics
- Geo-Hazards and Risk
During the conference, 5 invited speakers, from local and global Industry and Academia, provided a review of topics and innovation that are pivotal to ground engineering in our changing world. In addition, a total of 270 peer-reviewed technical papers were presented and discussed in oral and poster presentations. This allowed exchange of advanced knowledge and ideas, cross fertilisation and promotion of a true community of colleagues in ground engineering. These conference papers have been compiled as digital proceedings (Narsilio et al., 2012).
The authors of the highest ranked papers were invited to resubmit an extended version to the International Journal of Geotechnical Engineering for publication in a special edition in July 2013. In addition, papers of particular relevance to Australasia have been included in this issue of Australian Geomechanics.