Report on overseas trip: July - November 1970

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Oborn, L.E. 1970 Report on overseas trip: July - November 1970. Lower Hutt: New Zealand Geological Survey. New Zealand Geological Survey report EG 102 55 p.

Abstract: Fourteen weeks were spent attending two International Congresses (on engineering geology and rock mechanics) and visiting 57 engineering geological organisations in 26 countries. The congress were rewarded in many different ways. They provided an opportunity to speak to many people who are working in exactly the same field as we are; this has given a new dimension of life to the literature. The printed papers, not all of which could be read at the time, and few of which could be studies in detail, continue to serve as major sources of knowledge on recent advances in these fields. The remembered (and some printed) discussions have helped to amplify some papers, and assign orders of credibility to others. The Congresses, and discussions during visits to many countries, confirmed a major trend towards the qualification of engineering geology as a whole, and the physical properties of rocks in particular. Analytical methods of assessing slope stability are assuming major importance, but more emphasis yet needs to be placed on the evaluation of the basic engineering geological data used in these methods. Engineering geological (and environmental) maps are presenting a wealth of data on the physical properties of rocks, ''soils'' and ground water, and on their recorded or expected behavior. New Zealands willingness to provide engineering geological training for engineering geologists and engineering geological technicians from those Developing Nations affiliated with ENCAFE, was greeted with mild interest only. New Zealands training of engineering geologists and engineering geological technicians under the Colombo Plan would be more effective with more active and efficient planning by its scientists. Colombo Plan countries themselves, could in turn, enhance the value derived from such training by defining clearly and giving adequate background information about their needs. There would be very great merit also in insisting that each country gives some assurance that the candidate it selects will be employed on his return, in the duties for which he has been trained. Most of the engineering geology practiced in New Zealand (mapping, logging and interpretation based on these) is equal to the best in the countries visited. But we have no cause to be complacent. Although this work is very important, it does by no means embrace the full spectrum of engineering geology that the country urgently needs and can expect, or that we are attempting to cover. Indeed at times it is a poor and hazardous substitute. Our application of quantitative slope stability analyses and prediction, and research into the physical properties of rocks are at least five years behind an acceptable standard. More New Zealand organisations are becoming aware that a capability in these areas must be available in New Zealand. The Engineering Geological Section of the N.Z. Geological Survey should have this capability, but it cannot achieve this without financial and admini strative support. It is reasonable that the cost of developing this should be a legitimate charge on the accounts of the major projects that benefit. In practical terms, equipment necessary to pursue a line of investigation should be charged to an engineering project. I am most sincerely grateful to the DSIR for giving me that opportunity to go on this overseas trip, and to a very large number of people who made it a wonderfully stimulating, professionally rewarding, and culturally (and gastronomically) enjoyable experience. (auth)