Geology for Civil Engeneering


This course aims to provide the students with a broad knowledge in the area of the Geosciences, in particular on the origin and evolution of Earth, the interaction between the different earth systems, as well as the importance of Geology as an applied science and as a support to decision making in Civil Engineering.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ligia Nunes de Sousa Pereira de Castro, Paulo do Carmo de Sá Caetano


Weekly - 4

Total - 58

Teaching language



Not applicable.


K. C. CONDIE & R. E. SLOAN (1998) Origin and Evolution of Earth. Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 485 p.

F. PRESS, R. SIEVER, J. GROTZINGER & T. H. JORDAN (2003)  Understanding Earth. W. H. Freeman & Co., New York, 4ª ed.

B. SKINNER & S. PORTER (1992) The Dynamic Earth. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 2ª ed.

MATTHEWS, M., SIMONS, N. & MENZIES, B. (2005) A short course in Geology for Civil Engineers. Thomas Telford, London, 302 p.

VALLEJO, L. I. Gónzalez de (Coord.) (2002)  Ingeniería Geológica. Prentice Hall,Madrid, 744 p.

Teaching method

Different learning methods are used in this course:

- Tutorial teaching, corresponding to the programmed lectures and laboratory sessions

- E-learning methods are available by use of the Moodle  platform, where students can contact instructors for dialogues and questions that they need to ask. This learning component does not substitute the mandatory office hours.


Evaluation method

Course evaluation is obtained by 4 written theoretical and practical tests corresponding to 4 separate parts of the course content: T1 - theoretical part 1; T2 - theoretical part 2; P1 practical part 1; P2 - practical part 2

The final classification (F) is calculated as follows: 

F= (T + P)/2 

where T = (T1+T2)/2 e P = (P1+P2)/2

For final approval students must: 

- attend at least 2/3 of all theoretical and practical classes (students with 2 or more enrollments are dispensed of theoretical classes);

- have completed all evaluation components (T1, T2, P1 and P2);

- obtain a final classification (F)  >= 9,5/20;

- obtain a P2 classification >=6/20.

Subject matter

The importance of Geosciences and links with Civil Engeneering.
Origin and evolution of planet Earth. Seismology: seismic waves, scales, zones and maps, seismograms; seismic prevention. The internal structure of the Earth; units and discontinuities. Continental and oceanic morphology.The continental drift. Plate tectonics – the Hess sea floor spreading theory and the Vine-Matthews hypothesis. The geomagnetic reversal time scale. Transform faults and lithospheric plates. The origin of mountain ranges (subduction and obduction).
Tectonics and structural geology: deformation in the crust (brittle and ductile). Concept of structural level, tectonic environments and associated structures. Fold and fault nomenclature.
Stratigraphy: the duality of the stratigraphic classification, units and general principles. The study of a sedimentary basin (eustatism and subsidence). Stratigraphic contacts.
Geology as an applied science and decision support in Civil Engineering.
Geology and geological resources of Portugal. Resources and reserves. Portuguese legislation. Mineral masses and mineral deposits, mines and quarries. Hidromineral resources and natural waters. Energetic resources. The extractive industry in Portugal, industrial and ornamental rocks.
Groundwater. Darcy’s law. Definition of aquifer aquifuge, aquiclude and aquitard. Classification of aquifers. Groundwater as a negative factor for civil engineering: examples of works in which geotechnical problems created by the presence of groundwater may occur.
Terrain characterization. Physical properties of rocks. The concept of rock mass. Geometric and physical characteristics of discontinuities. Rock alteration and alterability. Physical and chemical weathering. Products of rock weathering. Clay minerals. Soil formation. The geotechnical definition of soil. Residual soils and anthropogenic soils. Soil characterization.
Natural (geological) and induced hazards and risks. Notion of "hazard" and the definition of "risk". Natural hazards, potentially catastrophic, unforeseen and reasonably foreseeable. Risk management and critical steps to an integrated approach: risk assessment and risk mitigation.
Laboratory classes
Essential minerals. The rock cycle. Macroscopic analysis of the main types of rocks and related geological processes. Location in Portugal and major applications of different kinds of rocks. Topographic maps. Geological maps: sections and interpretation.


Programs where the course is taught: