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Introduction to Engineering Geology

Course Code: GEOL 1150
Faculty: Science & Technology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

In this course, emphasis is placed on the origin and nature of Earth materials and on geologic environments which affect site conditions, engineering designs and waste disposal sites. Topics such as rocks and minerals, soils, slope stability, permafrost, flood control and earthquake activity are discussed with special reference to local geological problems. Credit will not be given for both GEOL/GEOG 1120 and GEOL 1150.

Course Content

Earth Materials

  • Physical and chemical properties (e.g., responses to stress, strain, deformation mechanisms)
  • Identification and classification of minerals, rocks (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary), and soils
  • Rock cycle
  • Weathering and erosion

The Earth’s crust

  • Plate tectonic theory
  • Causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and their impacts on engineered structures


  • Hydrological cycle
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Impact of engineering activities on the availability and quality of drinking water from groundwater resources

Fluvial Processes

  • River morphology
  • Erosion, transport  and deposition of sediment
  • River hydraulics, flooding and flood control   
  • Examples such as Fraser River, Squamish/Cheakamus  Rivers, Coquitlam River

Mass Movements and Slope Stability

  • Classification of slope movements
  • Mechanisms of slope failure
  • Preventative measures 
  • Examples such as Hope and Frank Slides, Sea-to-Sky Highway, Open pit Mines

Coastal Processes

  • Wave action and coastline configuration
  • Erosion, transport  and deposition of sediment
  • Coastal engineering
  • Examples such as Point Grey, White Rock, California coast, hurricane-prone coastlines

Glaciation and Permafrost

  • Glaciated landforms,
  • Glacial deposits
  • Construction techniques                                                               
  • Examples such as Mackenzie Valley pipeline, Coquitlam gravel quarries, local construction techniques

Waste Disposal

  • Sanitary landfills
  • Radioactive and other hazardous  waste disposal                                                                              
  • Examples such as Lower Mainland garbage disposal

Major Geological Hazards

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic activity                                                                                                           
  • Examples such as Cascadia subduction zone, San Andreas fault system, Mts. St. Helens, Garibaldi, and Baker

Environmental Impacts of Engineering Activities

  • Geological considerations concerning design of surface and subsurface structures

Labs may cover the following topics:

  • Mineral identification
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Igneous rocks
  • Metamorphic rocks
  • Geological techniques
  • Topographic maps
  • Slope stability
  • Earthquake and volcanic hazards

Methods of Instruction

  1. The primary mode of instruction will involve lectures and laboratory exercises.
  2. One or more field trips will be scheduled.
  3. Readings will be assigned to supplement lectures.
  4. Discussions on local case histories will be included each week.
  5. Audio-visual aids and guest speakers will be used where appropriate.

Means of Assessment

In-class tests (2 or 3) 30-40%
Final exam 25-30%
Lab/seminar 20-40%
Oral/written report 5-10%

Learning Outcomes

The general objective of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the role that Earth materials and geological processes play in controlling human activities on the Earth’s surface. Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Show an understanding of the physical properties used to identify Earth materials.
  2. Identify and classify common minerals, rocks and soils, and understand their significance to different types of engineering projects.
  3. Show an understanding of the geomorphic processes that modify the Earth’s surface.
  4. Show an understanding of the engineering and construction problems associated with Earth processes and of the procedures used to counteract such problems.
  5. Describe case histories of geological engineering problems and the lessons we have learned from past mistakes.
  6. Communicate and work effectively with geoscientists when working in a multidisciplinary project.
  7. Examine one or more geological engineering problems and present an oral and/or written report.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.