The future for rock mechanics and the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) is considered by assessing what has been achieved in the first 50 years of rock mechanics and hence identifying some of the major remaining unsolved problems. By noting the direction that technology might take in the future, the possibilities for future rock mechanics developments are also considered. The near-future encompasses the current ISRM modernization programme that the Board is implementing and developments that are clear from known technology. The further-future is predicted from likely technological innovations and their implications for rock mechanics. Additionally, the purpose, nature and potential evolution of professional societies such as the ISRM are briefly discussed. The emphasis in this paper is on rock mechanics as it supports rock engineering, the subjects cove


It is important for our subject of rock mechanics and its application to rock engineering that we consider the directions that are likely to be taken in the future. Indeed, this is a suitable time for such speculation as the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the ISRM is due in 2012, with the celebrations beginning at the 2011 ISRM Congress in Beijing. Additionally, this year, 2008, is the centenary of Leopold Mueller's birth, the founder and first President of the ISRMred being geology, rock stress, intact rock, rock fractures, water flow, engineering activities and numeri So, in this paper, and based on what has been achieved in the past (essentially over the last 50 years), let us identify some of the major remaining problems that have not yet been solved. This leads naturally to the consideration of which technological developments are likely in the future and hence whether these will enable the remaining problems to be solved. In terms of the ISRM, there is currently a major modernisation underway which will, to some extent, enable a prediction of the near future for the ISRM. However, the far future for the ISRM will also be discussed because this encompasses interesting questions relating to the nature of individual and group interactions and the storage and dissemination of corporate knowledge.

Summarising the Current RockMechanics Knowledge and Capabilities

The rock mechanics knowledge and capabilities have been summarized in encyclopaedic form vi Rock Engineering" which was produced by Elsevier in 1995 [1]. The five volumes cover the subjects of: 1. Fundamentals 2. Analysis and Design Methods 3. Rock Testing and Site Characterisation 4. Excavation, Support and Monitoring 5. Surface and Underground Case Histories. Although it is now 13 years after this compendium was published and advances have been made in many areas, the essence of the state.

Unsolved Problems in Rock Mechanics

Despite the major progress that has been made in rock mechanics and rock engineering over the last 50 years, there are still outstanding problems. In fact, Leopold Muller's motivation for founding the ISRM was encapsulated in his May 1962 comment, "We don't know the rock mass strength. That is why we need an International Society.

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