Fifty two years ago, the failure of rock foundation below the Malpasset arch dam, in southern France, asked for thorough studies by many new methods, as this dam was and is still the only arch dam worldwide having suffered a total failure. From the next day, drastic changes were introduced in many practices of designing, building, surveying and maintaining dams, as well in France as abroad. Many progresses were developed in the measure of rock properties, some of them unknown at that time, as well in the lab as in the field, and in the analysis of rock mass stability and its dependency to groundwater pressure. The concept of uplift defined after the Bouzey dam failure in 1895 was extended from gravity dams to arch dams. All in all, civil engineering benefited from such developments and joined mining and petroleum communities to form ISRM. The society foundation in 1962 may be seen as a direct heir of the Malpasset catastrophe

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