09/09/2022 – 50 years of Engineering Geology and Rock Mechanics in Belgium

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Atomium, Brussels

In 1970, Prof. Léon Calembert was at the origin of the creation of a committee for Engineering Geology in Belgium. A couple of years later, another Belgian scientific association was founded by Prof. Josef Brych with the purpose to focus on Rock Mechanics. Those initiatives followed a more global trend which was marked by the founding in the 1960’s of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) and the International Association for Engineering Geology (IAEG). In order to celebrate 50 years of Engineering Geology, and consecutively Rock Mechanics, in Belgium, the Council of the Belgian Society for Engineering Geology and Rock Mechanics decided to organize a major event in 2020 at the Atomium, Brussels. Unfortunately, the COVID crisis completely disrupted the organization and the event was postponed several times. Finally, on 9 September 2022, the jubilee took place, accompanied by a commemorative book.
During this day, we could remember how the scientific societies were created in our country and their evolution: a recognition to the people who made (and are still actively contributing to) our society, its structure and its activities. For instance, in addition to regular technical meetings, the Belgian associations also organized several big events at the international level.  The Jubilee was also highlighted by the participation of two distinguished guests reprensenting the international associations. Rafig Azzam, professor emeritus from the RWTH Aachen University, was President of the German National Association of Engineering Geology and Vice President for western Europa of the IAEG. He is currently President of the IAEG. Prof. Wulf Schubert comes from Graz University of Technology (Austria). He was the Vice President at Large for the ISRM and President of the Austrian Society for Geomechanics since 2007.
Prof. Wulf Schubert

Graz University of Technology – Institute of Rock Mechanics and Tunnelling

President of the Austrian Society for Geomechanics

Formerly Vice-President at Large for the ISRM

Prof. Rafig Azzam

Professor emeritus, from the RWTH Aachen University

President of the IAEG

Formerly President of the German National Association of Engineering Geology (2009-2017) and Vice-President for western Europa

Beyond the historical aspects, the Jubilee was also an opportunity to depict the general scientific framework in which the evolution in the fields of experimental characterization and numerical modelling are addressed. A focus on monitoring was also proposed, looking to the perspectives for the future. Next to that, topics that represent big concerns in the Belgian context were addressed: major urban projects, risks and underground workings.
Finally, the Council decided to relaunch the Calembert Award in order to recognize somebody who distinguished him·herself in Engineering Geology and/or Rock Mechanics. As a tribute to his career, Prof. Christian Schroeder was awarded.

Presentations (available in PDF format)

CBGI, GBMR, SBGIMR, a 50 years long story (P. Welter & JF. Thimus)

Theme 1 : General scientific framework

About the evolution of approaches to characterize rock materials (JP. Tshibangu)

Numerical simulations and couplings (R. Charlier)

Monitoring 4.0 for a better future (JF. Vanden Berghe)

Theme 2 : Major urban projects

ISRM, an introduction (W. Schubert)

 Rock engineering issues of tunnels boring and/or digging  (W. Schubert)

Construction of the new subway infrastructure ‘Constitution’ in Brussels (JM. Couvreur)

The challenges of the construction of an underground infrastructure in an urban context: the case of the project Metro Nord – Extension of the Metro Line M3 (M. Meyer)

Theme 3 : Risks and underground workings

IAEG, an introduction (R. Azzam)

Method to Substitute Threshold Criterion of Monitoring and Early Warning in Geotechnical Constructions (R. Azzam)

Risks related to underground cavities: methodologies and applications in the French post-mining context (J. Morel)

Guidelines for land planning management hampered by underground cavities hazard: new prospective for Wallonia (D. Pacyna & A. Kheffi)

Impact of past underground mining on surface movement (A. Vervoort)

The “Coo III” project: Rock mechanics aspects for the technical prefeasibility of the extension of the Coo Pumped Storage Plant  (PSP) (A. Gauffriau, S. Godart, B. Hoffer)

Calembert Award (C. Schroeder)

Issues and perspectives for engineering geology and rock mechanics (F. Descamps)