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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Engineering : Civil

Undergraduate Course: Engineering Geology 2 (CIVE08018)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Engineering CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryIn 2014/15 the Course Organiser for this course is Dr Joaquin Cortes (

This course will provide an introduction to the discipline of engineering geology, with the purpose of allowing an understanding of how the fundamental principles of geological sciences influence the design and construction of engineering structures.
Course description Lecture Titles

L1 Rationale: Geology for Civil Engineers. Overview: how the Earth works.

L2-5 The Rock Cycle, geologic time and event sequences.
Plates, magmatism and the diversity of igneous rocks.
Surface processes. Sedimentary rocks. Minerals.
Rock strength and controls. Cleavage, joints and faults.
Types and uses of geological maps and cross-sections.

L6-7 Engineering implications. Problems and solutions:
Superficial deposits. Difficult ground.
Ground investigation, Geophysical methods.
Glacial deposits and arctic terrains.
Limestone terrain: landforms.
Slope failure and other hazards.

L8 Earthquakes: mechanisms, ground motion and secondary consequences. Hazard and risk. Strategies.

Case study: The Bam earthquake of 2003 case study. Investigating the link between geology, earthquake hazard and human settlement.

L9 Global warming: the evidence, and implications of climate change. Sea- level rise and future civil engineering challenges.

L10 Review of the course. Revision and examination strategies.

3-part practical coursework (30% of overall course mark but must be passed independently):

1. Demonstrator-led field trip to Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

3-hour trip, on a Saturday or Sunday, date tba, in October.

An introduction to field observations using a local example of historical significance.

Assessed by work done and handed in on the day (10% of coursework total).
A zero mark will be awarded to students who do not hand in the assessment.

2. Geological mapping tutorials

Eight 1-hour sessions, weeks 2 to 9 with an optional revision & remedial session available in week 10.

An introduction to geological maps and cross-sections: construction, interpretation and the extraction of event sequences.

Assessed by homework exercise, issued week 9 for hand-in week 11 (60% of coursework total).

3. Rock and mineral identification

Largely self-taught. A captioned rock display suite is made available towards the end of the semester with demonstrator attendance at set times. The suite includes a self-test section with answers and is laid out according to a basic classification matrix with emphasis on common rock-types and minerals and on the visual criteria for categorisation.

Familiarity with the suite is the only route to acquiring identification skills, self-paced by repeated close observation. Demonstrators will answer questions but do not teach the basic identification skills.

Assessed by 30 -minute practical examination in December, by completing pro-forma sheets (30% of the coursework total)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course the student should be able to:

- demonstrate a basic knowledge of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks, their formation and occurrence in different tectonic environments;

- demonstrate an ability to interpret geological maps and construct elementary geological cross-sections and infer subsurface structure;

- recognise and describe common geological formations of relevance to civil engineering and demonstrate a basic knowledge of investigation techniques and mitigation strategies for difficult ground.
Reading List
Waltham, A.C. Foundations of Engineering Geology. 3rd Edition, Blackie Academic and Professional, 2009. Excellent concise text organised in page-wise units on specific topics. Highly recommended. Good value.

The 2nd edition (there are sevearl copies in the library) is perfectly adequate and in some sections easier to follow than the 3rd.

Other useful texts:

Blyth, F.G.H. and de Freitas M.H. A Geology for Engineers 7th Edition. Edward Arnold, 1984. A solid classic if you want more.

West, G. The Field Description of Engineering Soils and Rocks. Open University Press, 1991. A useful little practical guide for future use as a professional.

For more background on geology:

Marshak, S. Earth: Portrait of a Planet. 3rd Edn. 2008. W.W. Norton. Probably the best of the illustrated mega-textbooks. American but examples not exclusively so. Good web-links to GoogleEarth images. Used as a source in the course. Copies to be installed on Student Reserve
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsGeology, Mapping
Course organiserDr Joaquin Alberto Cortes
Course secretaryMiss Lucy Davie
Tel: (0131 6)51 7073
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