The geologist and legal responsibilities
Throughout the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth, the involvement of geologists in legal matters as part of their normal professional services was rare. A geologist’s principal endeavors prior to the early 1900s were mainly restricted to the more classical and academic studies of the Earth’s features and resources. An exception, and one of the earliest recorded cases of geological litigation and the as-encountered site conditions, involved excavation to enlarge the Erie Canal Locks at Lockport, New York, in 1839. James Hall of the New York Geological Survey was asked to evaluate and classify a “Slate Rock and Shale” sequence; the engineer’s contract quoted a unit price for “solid rock” and a lower price for “Slate Rock and Shale” (described in Chapter 1, this volume). Terms of the 1839 contract made a clear distinction between the rock types impossible.
Even the early applied geologists (Chapter 1, this volume) were mainly involved with collecting and describing the geologic setting of a proposed project and providing the relevant information on areal and site maps with accompanying texts that described the general geologic conditions to be expected. Only on rare occasions would the highly respected early applied geologists, such as W. O. Crosby, James Kemp, Heinrich Ries, Charles P. Berkey, or Warren J. Mead, be invited to serve in litigation, and never as part of a large-scale claim or changed-conditions argument so common since the 1960s. Rather, those early applications of geology for legal purposes were usually restricted to a single geologic entity, such as the two detective problems of a geological flavor in the early 1900s solved by Professor Berkey:
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The Heritage of Engineering Geology; The First Hundred Years
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.