Barton, Nick
International consultant, Rock Engineering

Barton has 50 years of experience from hundreds of rock mechanics and rock engineering projects in a total of 41 countries. Most have concerned hydropower tunnelling and caverns, metro tunnels and station caverns, motorway tunnels, rock slope stability, and major dam abutment characterization. Nuclear waste disposal research projects have been performed in several countries as well, in particular in the USA, in the UK and in Sweden. He is sometimes involved in TBM project prognoses of likely behaviour using QTBM, including the longer-period deceleration after learning curve improvements.

He obtained a Ph.D. on rock slope stability from Imperial College, London in 1971. He worked for 25 years in
the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, part of the time as division director, and later as technical adviser. From 1980 to 1984, between two longer periods in NGI, he worked in the geomechanics division of TerraTek, later Schlumberger, in Salt Lake City, In 2000 he started his own international rock engineering consultancy:          Nick Barton & Associates.

He is author/co-author of 350 papers in technical journals and conference proceedings, and author
of a book on TBM Tunnelling in Jointed and Faulted Rock in 2000, and of a text book on Rock Quality, Seismic Velocity, Attenuation and Anisotropy in 2006. He is currently writing a rock engineering textbook with Prof. Stavros Bandis. Emphasis is on discontinuum behaviour since rock masses are mostly discontinuous.

He developed the well-known Q-system of rock mass characterization in 1974, and a non-linear shear strength criterion for rock joints in 1973/1982, now known as the Barton-Bandis criterion. Further empirical methods linked to Q are: the QTBM prognosis method since 1999, the QSLOPE method (for safe slope angles) since 2015, and the QH2O method (for estimating permeability with depth) since 2007.

He received the 6th ISRM Müller Award, given only once every four years for distinguished contributions to rock mechanics and rock engineering. He has an Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate) award from the University of Cordoba, Argentina (2004), and is an ISRM Fellow since 2015. He has received thirteen international awards between 1975 and 2021.


Address: Fjordveien 65c,1363 Høvik, Oslo, Norway.

View Full Profile