The geomechanics group
Beginnings (to 1980)
The Geomechanics Group had three staff by 1970, comprising Ian Donald, Alan Parkin, and Robin Cullen. They developed excellent laboratory facilities and initiated a research program that earned a world-wide reputation for excellence.
Ian did a lot of the early pioneering work on unsaturated clays and testing of these materials. He also has a strong research record in testing of, and the constitutive behaviour of soft clays, slope stability analyses (EMU and GWEDGEM) as well as dabbling in rock socketed piles and numerical methods.
Alan's specialities were mainly in consolidation of clays (using his so-called "velocity method"), and the interpretation of results of cone penetrometer testing. He also had an interest in soil erosivity, and later produced a guide for practitioners involved in stream management. When Robin departed (for the ministry) in 1972, Ian Johnston was appointed to the academic staff in 1975. He came to Monash with a research record in electrosmosis (a method used to improve the strength of soft clays). At Monash he developed an interest in the behaviour of soft, weak and weathered rock and socketed piles and is widely known for his research contributions in this area.
Staff Changes (1980 - )
Chris Haberfield joined the department in 1983. His areas of specialty were soft weak and weathered rock, rock socketed piles, rock joint behaviour, rock mass behaviour and numerical modelling. [Chris left in 2001 to join Golders as a consultant.]
Julian Seidel arrived in 1991 to undertake a PhD, and joined staff in 1994. Julian's areas of expertise were basically anything to do with piling. [Julian left in 1991 set up a consultancy.]
Ian Johnston left to take up a position of Dean of Engineering at Victoria University in 1995.
Ian Donald retired in 1995 but remained involved with the Department.
Abdelmalek Bouazza was appointed in 1996, bringing new strengths to the group with his expertise in enviromental geomechanics (landfill liner and cover design), geosynthetics and ground improvement.
Over the years, the Group has benefited greatly from having a number of outstanding research students. There are too many to document individually, but mention should be made of Phil Dight, who won the Rocha Award - for the best PhD thesis in the world in rock mechanics - in 1983.
Like other groups in the department, the Geomechanics Group offered a number of units for practitioners undertaking coursework masters degrees in the 1980s and early 1990s (when they were discontinued).
[Note. The above has been a one sided account, not mentioning the vital contributions of visiting professionals, laboratory and secretarial staff. The strength of the Geomechanics Group comes not only from the academics, but also with the office and laboratory staff who made the testing, teaching and reporting of work so effective. Above all, the students (undergraduate and postgraduate) are as important as all the rest in the quality of achievement.]