Distinguished Colleagues, Dear Friends,


This is my thirteenth progress report after 395 days as your President. Note that previous reports are on the ISSMGE web site ( under “From the President” if you need them. In this report, I would like to talk to you about the new Awards Committee (AWAC for short) and the Lexicon of geotechnical terms.


Awards Committee of ISSMGE (AWAC). I observed that our Society has very few awards given only every four years: the Terzaghi Orator chosen by the President, the Kevin Nash Gold Medal chosen by the Immediate Past President, and 3 Young Geotechnical Engineers awards. This is 5 awards every 4 years for 19000 members which represents 1 award per year per 15200 members. By comparison ASCE for example has 80 awards per year for 150,000 members which represents 1 award per year per 1875 members. While the number and emphasis on awards varies from country to country, it is clear to me that ISSMGE does not recognize sufficiently its most deserving members. In order to remedy this weakness, a new Board Level Committee called the Awards Committee (AWAC) has been approved by the Board and formed. It is composed of the Chair person, and six members representing the six regions of our world; these six members were selected by the Vice Presidents representing the 6 regions. I am happy to report that the ISSMGE Awards Committee is composed of:

Francois Schlosser from France (Chair)                                                        
Esve Jacobsz from South Africa (Secretary), representing Africa      
William Marcuson from USA, representing North America                
Eugeniusz Dembicki from Poland, representing Europe                      
Werner Bilfinger from Brasil, representing South America                
Indraratna Buddhima from Australia, representing Australasia        
Tadatsugu Tanaka from Japan, representing Asia                                   


Languages and the ISSMGE Lexicon . There are many important languages in the world. It would be nice if all countries had a common language. There is no doubt in my mind that English is moving towards that status and it could be that in another 100 years everyone on the Earth will speak English as well as their own language. However, the language of our country is not just our language, it is also a strong part of our culture. The Lexicon of geotechnical terms first appeared in 1953 in three languages (English, French, German). The second edition appeared in 1960 when 3 more languages were added (Swedish, Portuguese, Spanish). The third edition appeared in 1967 and 2 more languages were added (Italian, Russian). The fourth and fifth editions appeared in 1977 and then 1981 with various improvements but no additional languages. So today we are using the 1981 fifth edition. The Lexicon is made of three major parts: geotechnical terms, symbols and definitions, and indexes. The geotechnical terms are numbered, presented in alphabetical order in English, and given in the eight languages. The symbols and definitions are presented by main topics (for example: foundations, earth pressures, slopes, stresses and strains, properties). I think all of us should make a special effort to use the ISSMGE recommended symbols. You may be surprised to see for example that the plasticity index is not PI but Ip, that the relative density is not Dr but Id and called the density index, and that the shear strength is not s but τf. The third part of the Lexicon is the index in the 8 languages. There is one index per language and the index allows you to find the term that you need translated by indentifying its number; with that number you can go back to the list of terms and find its translation in other languages.
The Innovation and Development Committee (IDC), chaired by Dimitris Zekkos with Marc Ballouz as Vice Chair, is working on modernizing the Lexicon. They have already uploaded the pdf version of the Lexicon on the ISSMGE web site ( so that you can have it at your finger tips no matter where you are in the world. They are also working on adding new languages and turning it into a searchable and web based database. The new languages are Arabic, Chinese and Chinese Simple, Greek and Turkish. Their work is progressing and if your member society wishes to work on adding your language in the Lexicon please contact Dimitris Zekkos at ( IDC tells me that they plan to unveil the new electronic and addressable version of the Lexicon in 2013 at the Paris conference if not before.


Best wishes,

Jean-Louis BRIAUD
President of ISSMGE
International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering