Engineering Geology

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engineering geology

[‚en·jə′nir·iŋ je′äl·ə·jē]
(civil engineering)
The application of education and experience in geology and other geosciences to solve geological problems posed by civil engineering structures.

Engineering Geology


a branch of geology that studies the upper horizons of the earth’s crust and the dynamics of the crust in relation to human engineering and construction activity. Engineering geology considers the composition, structure, texture, and properties of rocks as soil. It develops forecasts of the processes and phenomena that occur when structures interact with environment, and it offers possible ways of influencing the processes in order to eliminate their harmful effects.

Engineering geology arose in the 19th century. In Russia the first engineering geology work was done during the construction of railroads (1842–1914). Among those who took part in this work were A. P. Karpinskii, F. Iu. Levinson-Lessing, I. V. Mushketov, A. P. Pavlov, and V. A. Obruchev. Engineering geology took shape as a science in the USSR in the late 1930’s as the result primarily of research connected with hydraulic engineering construction. Important roles in its development were played by F. P. Savarenskii, I. V. Popov, N. N. Maslov, V. A. Priklonskii, and M. P. Semenov.

Engineering geology is broken down into soil mechanics, which studies the rocks and soils being investigated as foundations, natural materials, and the media for engineering structures; engineering geodynamics, which considers the processes occurring under the influence of human engineering activity as well as natural geological processes; and regional engineering geology, which studies the regional and zonal spreading of engineering-geological processes and phenomena. Regional engineering geology analyzes the geological factors that determine the conditions for building and for operating engineering structures in a given territory and forecasts changes in engineering-geological conditions that may occur as the result of construction.

Marine engineering geology studies the possibilities of construction under the conditions of an underwater environment. Studying the effect of human engineering activity on the deep horizons of the earth’s crust (the catagenesis zone) is becoming a new branch of engineering geology, as is the study of seismic phenomena from an engineering-geological point of view (engineering seismology).

Engineering geology is closely tied to hydrogeology, geo-cryology (study of frozen soil), and petroleum geology. During field research it uses geophysical methods (electric geophysical exploration, seismic microsurveying, and ultrasound and nuclear-penetration coring) as well as physical and chemical methods. The electron microscope, electron diffraction studies, X-ray diffraction analysis, and other laboratory research methods are used to penetrate the “microcosm” of rocks.

In the USSR research in engineering geology is carried on by various organizations of the Ministry of Geology of the USSR, Gosstroi (State Committee on Construction), some higher educational institutions, and other organizations. The Scientific Council on Engineering Geology and Soil Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR coordinates all research. In 1968 at the 23rd session of the International Geological Congress, which was held in Prague, the International Association of Engineering Geologists was founded.


Savarenskii, F. P. Inzhenernaia geologiia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1939.
Popov, I. V. Inzhenernaia geologiia, 2nd ed. Moscow [1959].
Kolomenskii, N. V., and I. S. Komarov. Inzhenernaia geologiia. [Moscow] 1964.
Inzhenernaia geologiia v gosudarstvennom planirovanii. Moscow, 1968.
Problemy inzhenernoi geologii.Moscow, 1970.


engineering geology

The application of geology and its principles in the investigation and evaluation of naturally occurring rock and soil for use in the design of civil works.
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