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‘… if you do not know what you should be looking for in a site investigation, you are not likely to find much of value’ (Glossop 1968, p. 113).

The term site investigation is conventionally used in civil engineering practice (e.g. Dumbleton & West 1974; Weltman & Head 1983; Hawkins 1986; Fookes 1997; bxsI 1999; Simons et al. 2002) to describe a range of studies and investigations undertaken to assess the topography, geology, geomorphology and geotechnical ground conditions of a site or an area for the purposes of engineering design. In hilly and mountainous areas, landslide and slope stability assessments usually form important elements of these studies, and are often undertaken as part of a terrain evaluation. This terrain evaluation includes office-based desk studies and field-based assessments, and comprises techniques designed to investigate, classify and interpret:

  • landscape and landforms;

  • geological structure, rock types and soil types;

  • geomorphological processes, ground conditions and geohazards (including landslides) prior to embarking on any subxsurface ground investigation;

  • groundwater conditions; and

  • surface drainage patterns.

As described by Lawrance et al. (1993), a site investigation comprises terrain evaluation followed by subxsurface (or intrusive) ground investigation principally by trial pitting, drilling and boring and laboratory testing. In all applications, it is important to review and interpret existing information and to carry out remote sensing and field mapping (Sections B2.2, B2.3, B3.3

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