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What is an Engineering Geologist?

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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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An engineering geologist is someone who has studied geology and is now applying that education to assuring that natural geological factors are accounted for when planning for a new building or developed site. This is an important job, as it makes certain that the planned building will not have an overly negative impact on the surrounding area. At the same time, the engineering geologist also decides whether there are any geological concerns in the building area that may affect the structural soundness of the building itself.

The most common degree for an engineering geologist to have is a bachelor of science degree in geology. This four-year program prepares a geologist for his future career, often giving him plenty of hands-on work at the same time. After graduation, an engineering geologist may work in any number of specialties.

To understand what an engineering geologist is, it is important to understand what an engineering geologist does. One of the most important tasks is to perform studies on the geological features of an area before any of the features are changed, for either a building or site development. These changes may include mining, the introduction of a power plant or wind turbines, waterfront development, or habitat restoration programs. The last item, the restoration programs, is especially important. If a business is allowed to destroy a habitat for wildlife, it is almost always required to create a similar habitat nearby to minimize the impact to the environment.

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Engineering geologists also check areas for geological features that may be harmful to the planned developments, and look for ways to get around those potential problems. Examples of potential problems include landslides, frequent earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, erosion and a tendency toward flooding. In these cases, the geologist would determine the likelihood of the feature being a problem, and then see if there is any way for potential problems to be averted. These suggestions would be presented to the company interested in developing the site.

The work of an engineering geologist varies, depending on what her specialty may be. There are many different things that she may do. She is responsible for protecting the land that is being developed and also protecting the people who will be using the development, by making sure that the site is safe to build on. This is a very important job, and cannot be fulfilled by just anyone. The dedication to safety is what makes a geologist good at his job, along with a mind for numbers, eye for detail, and an ability to problem solve even in tough conditions. Engineering geologists are specially trained to deal with all of these situations, and know how to solve many of even the toughest problems.

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