Research efforts, governments of North America
Fitzhugh T. Lee, John S. Scott, Mariano Ruiz-Vazquez, Guillermo P. Salas, Jorge I. Maycotte, 1991. "Research efforts, governments of North America", The Heritage of Engineering Geology; The First Hundred Years, George A. Kiersch
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This section presents a synopsis of the evolution, function, and distribution of engineering-geological activities in the United States government. Much of the background information was obtained from material supplied by each agency in response to a written request. Other information was obtained from colleagues and library documents. Even a casual inspection of this information reveals that federal-agency engineering-geology practice from its infancy in the 1930s to its present-day maturity has followed a course that mirrors the worldwide development of the discipline. This has come about naturally as the result of agency needs that have been driven by budget, mission, and research aims. The result has been a mélange of practical applications to various civil and mining projects supported by applied and theoretical research. Federal agencies that employ geotechnical staffs, but are predominantly regulatory (e.g., Nuclear Regulatory Commission) rather than being concerned with research or practice of engineering geology, were not included in this report.
Perhaps the highest tribute to the practice of engineering geology in government was stated long ago by Charles P. Berkey, himself a pioneer in the field: “. . .I claim a place of honor for these men who spend their lives in devising new ways of using their specialistic knowledge and experience and ingenuity for more effective public works and for the greater comfort and safety of men and women everywhere. . .” (Berkey, 1942).
The U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.), Department of the Interior, has been involved in engineering geology for most of its 110-year life. In 1888, J. W. Powell, Director, began irrigation surveys, which were the first attempts at a national reclamation program and ultimately led to the establishment of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
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A review of milestones and changes in geological theory and practice from which modern engineering geology in North America has developed. Five chapters discuss historical events and the contributions of early scientists and engineers; nine chapters review the state of knowledge of dominant geologic processes, phenomena, and specialized principles critical to modern practice; and three chapters discuss geologic environs and the properties of construction materials. Four chapters are devoted to geoscience investigations and related techniques for: initial regional-areal evaluation of conceptual candidate sites (Phase I); selection of preferred-designated sites and design (Phase II); typical kinds of investigations used during project construction (Phase III); and as-built documentation and explorations of the operating or rehabilitation phases. Closing chapters focus on the geoscientist's responsibilities relative to engineering failures, errors of judgment that impact works, litigation, and forensic geoscience. The 34 contributors present extensive case histories applicable worldwide.