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On engineering geology

By Gabriel Oladapo Adeyemi   |   26 May 2017   |   4:05 am  

Engineering Geology was established by Prof. Karl Terzaghi, (1883 – 1963), an American based Austrian in 1938. Terzaghi, a structural engineer specialised in the design of dams.

Sir: Engineering Geology can be defined as the application of Geosciences to the solution of engineering problems. In terms of scope, it is Geology for Engineers combined with Geotechnics (Geotechnical Engineering).

Geology for engineers includes aspects of Geosciences such as Petrology (study of rocks), Structural Geology, Applied Geochemistry, Applied Geophysics, Mineralogy, Hydrogeology, Photo-geology and remote sensing, application of Earth sciences such as soil mechanics and rock mechanics is Geotechnics, or Geotechnology.

Engineering Geology was established by Prof. Karl Terzaghi, (1883 – 1963), an American based Austrian in 1938. Terzaghi, a structural engineer specialised in the design of dams.

He discovered that it was necessary to understand the Geology of any environment where a dam was to be constructed. This was as a result of premature failure of most of the dams he designed with members of his team. He had to invite geoscientists into his team.
While the engineers were learning relevant aspects of Geosciences, the geoscientists were also learning Geotechnics. This led to the emergence of engineering geology.

Terzaghi, who had earlier established soil mechanics, thus doubles as both the father of soil mechanics and Engineering Geology.
A person with Geoscience background has to learn Geotechnics at post-graduate level, while a person with civil Engineering background must study Geosciences at post-graduate level.

(i)  Engineering Geology has gained wide applications in most parts of the world especially in pre-construction investigation for structures such as buildings, dams, roads and highways, bridges and tunnels.
It is also important in:
(ii)  Location and evaluation of naturally occurring construction materials such as lateritic soils, sands, gravels and quarry products.
(iii) Environmental Impact Assessment and Auditing.
(iv) Investigation of proposed disposal sites.
(v)  Prevention of natural hazards such as erosion, flood, landslide and subsidence.
(vi) Drilling for water and hydrocarbons.
(vii) Mining of solid minerals.
(viii) Pre-construction investigation for Earthquake resistant structures.
(ix)  Location and evaluation of raw materials like clays, Shales, bitumen, and (x)  Environmental protection.

The Nigerian Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment is a specialist Group of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society. It is also an affiliate of the International Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment.

With members spread throughout Nigeria, the Association had her maiden International Conference last September at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja. The second International Conference will hold at the same venue
before 24 September and 27 September 2017.

Members of the society are relevant in Ministries and Parastatals of;
(i)  Power, works and Housing;
(ii) Solid Minerals Development;
(iii) Environment;
(iv) Water Resources and
(v)  Petroleum Resources

Prof. Gabriel Oladapo Adeyemi is president, Nigerian Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment (NAEGE).



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