Engineering Geology


The students who succeed in this unit must be able to understand the basic concepts in Engineering Geology, the main ground classification systems, as well as the capability to develop a basic geotechnical study for the main  types of engineering works.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Paula Fernandes da Silva, Pedro Calé da Cunha Lamas


Weekly - 4

Total - 56

Teaching language



No special requirements, but the previous attendance of Geophysics and of Mechanical Exploration classes is advisable.

Students must be present in at least two thirds of the practical classes, unless they are registered under a special status.


Fletcher, C. Geology for Ground Engineering Projects. Boca Raton:  CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.

Gangopadhyay, S. Engineering Geology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Vallejo, L. I. González de, & Ferrer, M. Geological Engineering. CRC Press Balkema Group, 2011.

 Waltham, T. Foundations of Engineering Geology. 3rd ed., Abingdon: Spon Press/ Taylor & Francis, 2009.

Teaching method

Theoretical classes with audiovisual media support.

Practical classes include laboratory works, practical exercises and field trips

Evaluation method

The final grade will correspond to the sum of the results of the following three evaluation components:

1 - Theoretical-Practical Assessment (70% of the final grade): Two tests, each one corresponding to 35% of the final grade. Minimum classification of 9,0 values ​​in 20 for both tests; otherwise, a final theoretical and practical exam will be held. 

 2 - Laboratorial evaluation: Lab test reports (20% of final grade); The student''''s signature as author / co-author of the report will be accepted only if the student participates in the corresponding practical classes.

3 -  A set of 5 practical homework exercises (summative assessment: 10% of the final grade)

A minimum of 10 is required as passing grade.

Students must attend on at least 2/3 of the practical classes.

Subject matter

Engineering Geology (GE), Soil Mechanics and Rock Mechanics - its historical evolution and interrelationship. Some historical examples of events that made the knowledge of Geotechnics be born as a scientific area and evolve. Engineering significance of soil and rock - the importance of its identification and forecasting behaviour.

Soils - characterization for engineering purposes. Particle size distribution and plasticity. Atterberg limits. Soil classifications: textural, Unified and AASHTO. Soil types and their geomechanical behavior.

Rocks - characterization for engineering purposes. Simplified lithological classification. Discontinuities and rock masses (RM) - types of discontinuities and its influence on RM behavior. Joints: study methods. Basic Geotechnical Description (BGD) from the International Society for Rock Mechanics.

Geosynthetics as geomaterials - types and functions. Some examples of applications for engineering purposes.

RM geotechnical classifications for civil and mining engineering purposes - its historical evolution. Main geomechanical classifications of rock mass - RMR index and Q system and its upgrades - SMR, MRMR, RME, Qtbm. The GSI index and its application depending on the type of rock mass. Correlations between classification indexes and estimation of geomechanical parameters.

Civil and mining engineering structures and infrastructures - a brief characterization and associated terminology. Sites studies. Studies and project phases - objectives, information sources, study methods and content of the reports. Soil and rock mass zonation and its engineering geological mapping. Main field and lab.characterization methods - the interpretation of its records.

Quality control - some examples. The role of geological engineer in the construction of landfills.


Programs where the course is taught: