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The original research for the book at the University of London was sponsored by the mining industry in response to a need to develop design methods for increasingly deep open pits. The 1960s and 1970s had seen the development of a new generation of high production drills, shovels and trucks that made low grade ore deposits economical to mine, and there was a consequent significant increase in the size of open pits.
The investigation and design techniques originally developed in Rock Slope Engineering for mines were soon adopted in civil engineering where the slopes’ heights are usually less than those in open pits, but there is a need for a high level of reliability in terms of both rock falls and overall stability. In response to the demand for a book that clearly presents well-proven methods to design rock slopes, Hoek and Bray’s book has continued to sell steadily around the world, and has been translated into a number of languages.
In 1980, one of the authors of this book (DCW) was awarded a contract by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in Washington to prepare a manual on rock slope design and construction specifically applicable to highways. At that time, I was working with Dr Hoek and he generously agreed that his manuscript of Rock Slope Engineering could be adapted for this purpose. The manual closely followed the original book, apart from chapters on slope stabilization and movement monitoring.
A second FHWA contract was awarded in 1996 as part of an eleven module series on highway geotechnical engineering, and this opportunity was taken to embark on a major updating of the manual. The manuals have been used primarily as teaching material for a series of courses sponsored by the National Highway Institute for highway engineers in the United States; to date over 40 courses have been presented. It was realized that a limitation of the FHWA manuals was their focus on highway engineering, and that their availability was generally limited to course participants.
Therefore, in 2001 it was decided that it would be worthwhile to produce another update that would cover the wider field of rock slope engineering, including civil and mining applications. In order to take this step, it was necessary to obtain the permission and co-operation of a number of organizations and individuals—Mr Jerry DiMaggio of the Federal Highway Administration, Dr G. P. Jayaprakash of the Transportation Research Board, both in Washington, and Dr George Munfakh of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas (PBQD) in New York.