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In science and engineering, including engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, initial investigations can be particularly cost-effective for early evaluation and the planning of subsequent investigations: ‘time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted’ (purportedly said by Napoleon Bonaparte). But the work needs to be well planned and executed if its findings are to be used properly and their potential benefits are to be realized. Clients and their professional advisors are frequently exhorted to carry out desk studies and other investigations early in the design of a project (e.g. among many publications: Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists 2006; BS...

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