(To read my rants on the special talents of geologists, click here.)
Geologists can be kind of obscure, so on this page:
• I’ll talk about some of the things that geologists do that enhance the quality of our lives, and…
• I’ll point you toward websites for organizations that geologists use.
This month I’m putting the spotlight on engineering geologists.
“What’s an engineering geologist?” you might ask. “Is that a geologist who drives trains?” No…but it is a geologist who knows the best place to lay the track for that train, because (s)he knows how to analyze the rock across which the track will be laid. How strong is that rock? Is it prone to rock slides? Is there a better route through stronger rock? And if we have to drive a tunnel through the mountain, are going to hit faults?
Okay, maybe you never ride trains. How about that dream house you want to build on that lovely hillside overlooking your town? Will the grading work you need to do for your foundation turn that slope into a landslide? If so, what’s a better way to construct that foundation? Ask an engineering geologist!
The engineering geologist’s job is to investigate the rock and soil beneath, around, and above anything that’s being constructed. Think not just tracks and buildings but also tunnels, bridges, foundations, landfills…the list goes on and on.
Many states and municipalities require that a geologist investigate your construction site and prepare a report of findings. Many construction projects have an engineering geologist involved throughout design and construction.
For instance, my husband’s company (EBA Engineering: www.ebagroup.com) works on landfills—from design through grading to construction of the liner—to ensure that earthquakes and landslides won’t send all that gunk downhill and leaking into your groundwater. My husband (Damon Brown) is a fine engineering geologist (as well as a hydrogeologist and a sedimentologist, and I sure am proud of him), and the other principals of his company are a terrific civil engineer (Dale Solheim) and a super business manager (Nazar Eljimaily).
To learn more about engineering geologists, visit the Association of Engineering Geologists web site (www.aegweb.org). Click on About AEG, and then browse the rest of the site for meetings, field trips, and publications. They’re a great group of people, and you’d be amazed to know what their members have done for you lately!