On behalf of the New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS), and the organising committee, thank you for attending the 19th NZGS Symposium “Hanging by a Thread – Lifelines, Infrastructure and Natural Disasters”. This event, was one of the highest-attended NZGS symposiums to date, held in Queenstown, New Zealand from 20 and 23 November 2013.
In recent memory the Australasian region has suffered tremendous collateral damage and loss of life due to the occurrence of natural disasters. Many of these disasters, in particular earthquakes and flooding, are of direct relevance to geotechnical and engineering geology communities due to the associated adverse effect on the ground and earth structures. Since 2000 these types of natural disaster have caused over $NZD 100 billion worth of collateral damage, resulted in the tragic loss over 389 lives, caused thousands of injuries and an unquantifiable amount of emotional and psychological damage.
The 2010-2012 Canterbury Earthquake sequence, 2011 Victoria Floods and 2010-2011 Queensland Flood events have resulted in an unprecedented volume of disaster-related data, observations and first-hand experience for the geotechnical and wider engineering community. These experiences are currently being incorporated by local engineers in the design of repair and rebuild works in Canterbury, Victoria and Queensland. Moving forward this will ensure these new structures are more robust, resilient and cost-effective.
A key objective of the 19th NZGS symposium was to reduce human suffering due to a future natural disaster. For example, it is my personal observation and experience that “smart design”, which results in high levels of post-disaster key infrastructure functionality, is critical to minimise the adverse effects of major disasters on society, and, help to expedite the short-term emergency response and long-term recovery process.
It is my sincere hope that the 19th NZGS Symposium will become a noteworthy historic record and forum for sharing key geotechnical observations, research and lessons learnt from the recent disaster zones to a wider audience and geographic area. If this is achieved then I am confident that the proceedings of this conference will assist future generations to improve the planning, design and construction of their urban areas.
19th NZGS Symposium