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Geologist, engineering

Identifies and assesses the geological factors affecting site management at construction projects.

Job description

Engineering geologists consider plans and proposals for civil engineering projects such as bridges, factories and dams, and exploration sites such as offshore oil platforms. They apply their knowledge of rock and soil make up to ensure that natural geological factors are accounted for when planning for a new building or developing a site and that the planned building will not have an overly negative impact on the surrounding area. Their findings can affect major decisions on land management, risk assessment and equipment use.

Engineering geologists need to take into account conditions, including soil, rock and water, both above and below the ground. They assess the stability of rocks and soil, and their suitability for use as building foundations. Their aim is to determine whether there are any geological concerns in the building area that may affect the structural soundness of the building itself. They consider whether the water table will be affected by development, possibly reducing the supply of water to towns and cities. In addition they need to know if the area is prone to earthquakes, and what effects an earthquake might have, both during and after the engineering work.

Work activities

  • Studying maps and plans of soil, rocks and other physical features in a proposed development area.
  • Using aerial photographs or satellite imagery.
  • Analysing sites for environment sensitive developments, such as landfill sites.
  • Employing rock samples and test data to predict the rock's behaviour under different conditions.
  • Employing cutting edge technology to examine layers of rock and ground water.
  • Writing reports of the site visits’ conclusions.
  • Discussing findings with other professionals such as civil or structural engineers, or specialists in soil mechanics.
  • Checking that materials and conditions are conforming to predictions once actual development has begun and investigating any changes.

Work conditions

Travel: a regular part of the working day including overnight absence from home.
Location: throughout the county.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible to work as a freelance engineer or in a private consultancy practice.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.