Geology 455

GEOL 455

Catalog Entry

GEOL 455. Principles of Engineering Geology
Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory (4).

Prerequisite: GEOL 105; and either GEOL 100 or GEOL 106; and mathematics through trigonometry. Minimum of one semester of physics is strongly recommended.

A study of the application of geologic principles and data collection techniques to the evaluation of design and construction problems relating to engineering projects including dams, highways, landfills, tunnels and reservoirs including an overview of availability and suitability of soil and rock as construction materials.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The primary emphasis of this course is to develop in students an understanding of the application of geologic data collection techniques and principles to the study of rock and soil materials, and to some extent groundwater, so that the geologic factors affecting the design, construction, and maintenance of engineering projects are known. Topics include:


1 Introduction, Engineering Geology Defined
2 Soil vs. Bedrock
3 Soil Classification
4 Phase Diagrams, Soil Properties, Compaction
5 Effective Stress, Ground-water, Permeability
6 Soil Strength
7 Soil Strength & Consolidation
8 Engineering Properties of Rock, Aggregates
9 Physical Subsurface Investigations
10 Building Foundations
11 Highway Geology
12 Blasting
13 Slope Stability
14 Grouting, Engineering Geology of Urban Areas
15 Student Presentations


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course combines classroom lecture with laboratory investigations and practical problem solving exercises. Video tape and slide presentations are utilized to provide visual examples of engineering geologic case histories and technical procedures. A minimum of one field trip is planned to provide additional practical experience. Students are required to complete a research project and offer the results in the format of either a professional paper or a professional oral presentation.


Goals and Objectives of Course

1. Students will understand the application of geologic principles and procedures to the engineering design and performance of manmade structures on and in the earth.
2. Students will acquire knowledge of actual career working conditions and employer expectations.
3. Students will be required to exhibit professional quality work.


Assessment Measures


  • 3 lecture tests (100 pts each) = 300 pts
  • 10 lab and homework exercises = 100 pts
  • 1 research project = 100 pts


  • 500 pts total

Final grades will be based on the percentage of points earned by the student out of the 500 possible points. The lecture tests consist of essay and short answer questions along with practical geologic and engineering problems testing students' knowledge base in engineering geology. The laboratory and homework assignments will assess skill levels in industry standards of analysis. The research project will assess the students' thoughtful application of principles to a practical situation and their ability to report results in the format of the Bulletin of the Association of Engineering Geologists.


Other Course Information

1. GEOL 455 is a required course for the Environmental and Engineering Geoscience Concentration for a B.S. degree in geology.
2. GEOL 455 is usually taught in the evening. Working professionals are encouraged to take this class to enhance their understanding of the interactions between the works of man and the natural world.


  • Dennen, W.H. and Moore, B.R., 1986, Geology and Engineering, Wm. C. Brown Publishers, College Division, Dubuque, Iowa, 378 p.
  • Johnson, R.B. and DeGiaff, J.V., 1988, Principles of Engineering Geology, John Wiley & sons, Inc., New York, 497 p.
  • Rohn, P.H., 1986, Engineering Geology-An Environmental Approach, Elseveir Science Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 578 p.
  • West, Terry, 1995, Geology Applied to Engineering, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 560 p.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

Date Action Reviewed By
August 2005 Reviewed and Updated Stephen W. Lenhart, Chair