Geology and Urban Planning


Following this course, it is expected that students become fully aware of the major issues concerning geology and the urban environment. After concluding this unit, and taking advantage of a strong geological/geotechnical background, they should be able to recognize, evaluate and propose methodological solutions for typical geoenvironmental problems that occur in urban areas namely, natural and man-made hazards, georesources management, urban and industrial waste management, land-use and urban planning, environmental assessment and environmental impact studies.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Paulo do Carmo de Sá Caetano


Weekly - 3

Total - 42

Teaching language



Not applicable


McCall, G.J.H., De Mulder, E.F.J. & Marker, B.R. (eds.) (1996) – “Urban Geoscience”. Balkema, Rotterdam, 273 p.

Culshaw, M.G., Reeves, H.J., Jefferson, I., Spink, T.W. (eds.) (2009) – “Engineering Geology for Tomorrow''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s Cities”. Geological Society Engineering Geology Special Publication, London, nº 22, 400 p.

Bullock, P. & Gregory, P. J. (eds.) (1991) - Soils in the urban environment. Blackwell, Oxford, 174 p.

Bennett, M.R., Doyle, P. Larwood, J.G. & Prosser, C.D. (eds.) (1996) - “Geology on your doorstep”. The Geological Society, London, 270 p.

Bell, F.G. (1998) - “Environmental Geology – principles and practice”.

Teaching method

Theoretical and practical lectures with emphasis on the presentation of case studies. Field classes to visit locations selected by the presentations (case studies) made in the classroom.

Evaluation method

Assessment is made by 2 written tests (T1 and T2) and by the evaluation of a report/essay (Rep) presented by the students  to the whole class and on a subject chosen by each student. Calculation of the final classification (FC) is obtained by: 

FC = T (50-75%) + Rep (50-25%)

With T = (T1+T2)/2

The weight of each evaluation component is defined by the student as follows:

T (either 50 or 75%)

Rep (either 50 or 25%)

Subject matter

Introduction to Urban Geology. Urban expansion, urban planning and geoscientific data. Geoenvironmental factors that control urban and regional development in Portugal and Europe.Natural hazards in urban settings: earthquakes, active faults, surface rupture, volcanism, flooding, ground stability, differential setting and subsidence, soil erosion, coastal erosion, expansive clays.Man-made hazards in urban settings: induced seismicity, subsidence and surface collapse, sub pressures, occupation of flooding areas, modification of drainage patterns, ground contamination, derelict industrial and mining areas, soil compaction and sealing.Georesources. Shortage and management of resources: hydrologic resources, energetic resources, mineral resources, construction materials. Conservation of Geological heritage. Urban cultural georesources.Land use. Soil classification in the urban environment. Geotechnical and geoenvironmental mapping in urban areas. Recreational resources and facilities. Characterization of urban waste and industrial waste. Valorization of construction and demolish waste. Industrial and urban waste landfills. Site selection criteria for waste landfills.


Programs where the course is taught: