Air photo interpretation (API) has long been recognized as a fundamental procedure for classifying surficial (superficial) materials in the reconnaissance stage of site evaluation. The results from an API study can help with the rapid assessment of the relative suitability of sites for development and hence reduce costly field work. This paper presents a case history which uses the comprehensive ELUC terrain classification system and API to define the geological framework for seven potential industrial sites. Prior to field investigations the sites were ranked for their suitability using an evaluation matrix. Engineering factors were subjectively quantified relative to geotechnical considerations and entered in the evaluation matrix. This enabled sites to be ranked so that subsequent ground exploration could be concentrated on the most suitable sites. The successful application of the method suggests that it can be used elsewhere as a cost-effective procedure for engineering terrain assessment in the process of site selection.