Why Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering?

The 17th International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) Online Lecture will be delivered by Prof. Charles Fairhurst. The title of the lecture is: "Why Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering?". To watch the lecture, go to the ISRM website on the 27th April at 5 am CDT (10 am GMT).

The lecture will remain online so that those unable to attend at this time will be able to do it later. As usual, the attendees will be able to ask questions to the lecturer by e-mail during the subsequent five days. The video will be available from this page.

Abstract. This lecture examines the impact of the increase in world population over the next 50 years, and associated demand for resources, particularly subsurface resources.  Civil (geotechnical) and mining engineering, both of which have relied heavily on empiricism over centuries, are outstripping the limits of practical experience, and venturing into 'uncharted territory'.  Vigorous R&D programs are urgently needed and must involve close linkage with industry if the resource needs of the global population are to be met. The lecture also identifies a need that ISRM is well placed to address – a set of international Grand Challenges in Rock Engineering.

Charles Fairhurst obtained his Ph.D. in Mining Engineering from the University of Sheffield, UK in 1955. He joined the University of Minnesota faculty, School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1956, serving as Head for several years to 1970 when the Mining program was joined with Civil Engineering to form the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering. He served as Head of the joint Department from 1973-87 and retired in 1997.

He has consulted on rock stability problems for tunnels, dams, mines and excavations throughout the world. He remains active in consulting, with a current emphasis on the mechanics of fracture propagation in naturally fractured rock and the effective stimulation of geothermal reservoirs. He served as President of the International Society for Rock Mechanics from 1991-1995 and has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (1991) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (1979). He is a Fellow of the American Rock Mechanics Association and of the International Society for Rock Mechanics. In 2003 he received the Müller award, the highest award conferred by the ISRM.

He is currently Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA and Senior Consultant, Itasca International Inc. Minneapolis. Prof. Fairhurst holds honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Nancy, France; St. Petersburg Mining Academy, Russia; University of Sheffield, England; and University of Minnesota, USA; and is Advisory Professor to Tongji University, Shanghai, China.

In December 2013, he was inducted as Officier, Légion d’Honneur, France.