Abstract

Engineering construction dates from the dawn of civilization. Although both geology and civil engineering have existed in a reasonably modern form for only about 250 years, for thousands of years some individuals with an awareness of rock and soil conditions offered counsel on excavations, site conditions, and construction materials. The closeness of partnerships between geologists and engineers has varied over time and reflects a natural tension between the inductive approach of geological investigations and the deductive approach of engineering design. Both science and engineering have periods in which their governing paradigms, the generally accepted set of practices that define a discipline during a particular period of time, are subject to rapid change. Some of these ‘paradigm shifts’ have fostered closer collaborations between geologists and engineers; others have resulted in a weakening of such interactions. Society now demands that both geologists and engineers increasingly undertake complex predictions. Engineering projects have become much more complex; bridges and tunnels have become longer and larger, and high-speed transportation links have become common. Population growth has pushed developments into more complex geological locations where site conditions are less than optimal and geohazards more likely. New and ever more challenging environmental and economic issues make the design of new facilities increasingly dependent on accurate predictions of geological conditions. Decision-making under uncertainty (prediction) requires an increasingly multi-disciplinary approach, and thus continued close interactions between geologists and civil engineers.

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