Chapter 1 Introduction
Published:January 01, 2012
There are several, often conflicting, views of what is a desert. In the 1973 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary its definition of deserts included the phrase ‘dry, parched, withered, hence uninteresting’. This somewhat belied the romantic notions in the western world inspired by, among others, Wilfred Thesiger and T. E. Lawrence. At about this time desert regions became very ‘interesting’, gaining a greater significance with the rising price of oil fostering a development boom in many oil-rich countries, especially in the Middle East.
During this period early western designed and controlled building and construction projects in the Middle East began to fall foul of a number of geotechnical hazards little understood by professionals whose previous experience had been gained in the temperate regions of the world. Traditional, locally developed techniques were neglected or ignored, as had reported knowledge from valuable experience in the field (Bagnold 1941).
Over the last 30 years considerable understanding and experience has been gained of the geomorphological processes and ground characteristics peculiar to desert regions, and their effects on design and construction. Many innovative engineering techniques have been developed and employed, and information on these advances is now widely disseminated in the technical literature.
The report of a Geological Society of London Working Party on Tropical Residual Soils (Fookes 1990, 1997) was the first to consider a particular environment as the focus for an engineering geological handbook. As a natural successor in this approach, this Working Party report on engineering works in
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Hot Deserts: Engineering, Geology and Geomorphology Engineering Group Working Party Report
This volume provides an authoritative and comprehensive state-of-the-art review of hot desert terrains in all parts of the world, their geomaterials and influence on civil engineering site investigation, design and construction. It primarily covers conditions and materials in modern hot deserts, but there is also coverage of unmodified ancient desert soils that exhibit engineering behaviour similar to modern desert materials. Thorough and up-to-date guidance on modern field evaluation and ground investigation techniques in hot arid areas is provided, including reference to a new approach to the desert model and detailed specialized assessments of the latest methods for materials characterization and testing.
The volume is based on world-wide experience in hot desert terrain and draws upon the knowledge and expertise of the members of a Geological Society Engineering Group Working Party comprising practising geologists, geomorphologists and civil engineers with a wealth of varied, but complementary experience of working in hot deserts.
This is an essential reference book for professionals, as well as a valuable textbook for students. It is written in a style that is accessible to the non-specialist. A comprehensive glossary is also included.