ENGE417-21T1 (C) Term One 2021

Foundations of Engineering Geology

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 4 April 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 21 February 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 19 March 2021


This course covers the fundamentals of engineering geology by a structured approach to site investigation, with the goal of developing accurate engineering ground models.

Engineering geology is concerned with geotechnical properties of rock and soil, the roles of ground and surface water in site behaviour, geological and geomorphological development of landscapes, and formulation of ground models in the context of civil and/or mining practice. This course entitled ‘Foundations of Engineering Geology’ provides the necessary fundamentals from which more specialised courses dealing with rock mechanics, soil mechanics, geohazards and hydrogeology are developed in the context of engineering practice. Field work for site investigation, mapping and logging is emphasised in ENGE417, and a range of geological and geomorphological environments and landscapes are to be visited or reviewed by lectures and reading. An introduction to the basics of engineering construction principles is essential for the engineering geologist, and this is addressed by site visits, visiting speakers, and contact with professionals in related disciplines.

ENGE417 commences at the start of Term 1 with a week-long introduction to the PMEG programme, and includes lectures from participating staff, local field and/or site visits, social activities, and general briefing regarding course content and requirements. The five weeks of formal tuition take place in Weeks 2 to 6, commencing with a five-day field camp in Week 2 based at the Cass Field Station near Arthurs Pass. Lectures, laboratories and field work follow in Weeks 3 to 5, and culminate in a five-day field course in Week 6 based at the Westport Field Station. There is an expectation of extensive reading and literature review by students throughout the programme, but the weekends are kept free of formal tuition: during the two 5-day field courses evening work will be required.

Students are advised that personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for field work and site visits. This includes safety footwear, hi-vis jacket, safety glasses, hard hat and gloves. Some of these items may be borrowed from the Department in the short-term, but as professionals students are expected to obtain requisite equipment promptly. Other field equipment (eg geological compasses) will be provided.

Classes on campus are scheduled between 9.00am and 1.00pm in Room 213, Ernest Rutherford Building, unless otherwise advised. Check your timetable! For field work off campus further details will be advised, and for the Wednesday day-trips students can expect to be away from campus between 8am and 6pm.

Learning Outcomes

Assessment and Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course students will be competent in the following attributes (learning outcomes):

1. Planning for a site investigation to be conducted in a professional and safe manner, including outcomes and data requirements, and within the cultural and regulatory environment at that site.
2. Ability to conduct a ground investigation for engineering purposes using field observations, including face, trench and/or core/hand auger logging.
3. Use of site investigation data and methods to develop and present engineering ground models.
4. Analyse the geology and geomorphology of a site to deduce its geological evolution, and to infer future ground behaviour (including construction/remediation constraints).
5. Professional communication in writing and orally on the site investigation process, results and geotechnical implications for a specific project.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Approval by Head of Department. RP: BSc Geology or


ENGE410, ENGE415, ENGE471, ENGE486

Recommended Preparation

BSc Geology or equivalent

Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Field Trip A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 08:00 - 16:00 Westport (24/2-3/3)
Cass (24/2-3/3)
22 Feb - 7 Mar
Field Trip B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 08:00 - 16:00 South Canterbury (10/3-24/3)
North Canterbury (10/3-24/3)
Kaikoura (10/3-24/3)
8 Mar - 28 Mar
Workshop A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 09:00 - 13:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab 22 Feb - 28 Feb
8 Mar - 4 Apr
Workshop B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 09:00 - 13:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab 22 Feb - 28 Feb
8 Mar - 4 Apr

Timetable Note

Week One (University/Field; 17th to 21st February)

The first week of the programme is designed to introduce students to key aspects of Engineering Geology methods and practices, and to Department functioning and expectations. The programme is as follows, but with the proviso that weather or other issues may necessitate change:

Monday 17th February: Introduction to 2020 programme with teaching staff, HoD and technicians (9-11.30am)
Lunch at Tandoori Palace, Ilam Road (12-1.30pm), then invited lectures (2-4pm)

Tuesday 18th February: Ground models and their geotechnical importance (CHF; 9.00am-12noon)
Geo-logic and the art of geotechnical practice (DHB; 2.00-5.00pm)

Wednesday 19th February: Local field trip to Port Hills & Banks Peninsula (CHF/DHB; 9.00am-5.00pm)

Thursday 20th February: Field notebooks & site investigation overview (CHF; 9.00am-12noon)

Friday 21st February: Forming and storming for group work (MCV; 9.00am-12noon)
Building structures on Christchurch ‘soft ground’ (DHB; 2.00-5.00pm; field visit)
Week Two (Cass Field Station; 25th February to 1st March)

The second week of ENGE417 is based at the Cass Field Station (inland Canterbury), and involves a mix of field mapping and site visits. The group meets on the Monday at 8.00am for a final briefing, including health and safety aspects. Students are required to have PPE available for the trip (hi-vis, safety glasses, safety boots). Final itinerary is dependent on weather or other constraints, but technical work is expected to include the following:

• Technical stops at Castle Hill Quarry & Broken River Bridge Landslide (Monday 25th February).
• Visit to Big Wainihinihi tunnel & Dillmans hydro-electric power scheme (Tuesday 26th February).
• Midland Line to Slovens Creek Viaduct; completion of first exercises (Wednesday 27th February).
• Engineering geological/geomorphological mapping of Ribbonwood Fan (Thursday 28th February).
• Student group presentations at Field Station; Ribbonwood Fan exercise submission (Friday 1st March).

Week Three (University/Field; 4th to 8th March)

Week Three consists of classroom sessions, laboratories, field work and/or self-directed study. A full-day field trip to Opuha Dam (South Canterbury) is scheduled for the Wednesday and a local site investigation exercise for the Friday, subject to weather or other constraints. The following topics are planned for Week Three:

• Field trip debrief (DHB/CHF); *technical writing (EL/CHF); site investigation overview (DHB; Monday).
• Weathering & soils (CHF); bedrock mapping/logging (CHF); dam & canal projects (DHB; Tuesday).
• Field Trip to Opuha Dam (South Canterbury) – rock foundations & materials (CHF/DHB; Wednesday).
• Drilling methods & rock core logging exercise on campus – linked to ENGE416 (DHB/MCV; Thursday all day).
• Soil site investigation exercise at Groynes Park; sample collection for testing (DHB; Friday).
*10am-12noon (Ernest Rutherford Room 213)

Week Four (University/Field; 11th to 15th March)

Week Four consists of classroom sessions, laboratories, field work and/or self-directed study. A full-day field trip to coastal Kaikoura is scheduled for the Wednesday, subject to weather or other constraints, and the Engineering Geophysics session on the Monday will also be full-day. The following topics are planned for Week Four:

• Laboratory testing of soil samples from Groynes Park (Soils Laboratory & tutorial session; DHB; Monday).
• Engineering geophysics principles, methods & case studies (Southern Geophysical; Tuesday – all day).
• Field Trip to Kaikoura to inspect State Highway 1 & rail corridor damage/repair (CHF/DHB; Wednesday).
• Bi-cultural discussion and numeracy relevant to engineering geology (MCV; Thursday afternoon (1pm-5pm)).
• Volcanic processes; slopes & landslides; remote sensing in geomorphic analysis (CHF/DHB; Friday).

Week Five (University/Field; 18th to 22nd March)

Week Five consists of classroom sessions, laboratories, field work and/or self-directed study. A full day field trip is scheduled for the Wednesday to the Motunau-Cheviot area, subject to weather or other constraints. The following topics are planned for Week Five:

• Landslide case studies & movement monitoring methods in rock and soil (DHB/CHF; Monday).
• Fluvial systems & related management issues; marine & glacial systems (CHF; Tuesday).
• Field Trip to Motunau & lower Hurunui-Gore Bay-Cheviot soft-rock areas (DHB/CHF; Wednesday).
• Geomorphic mapping techniques; lifeline evaluation for corridor projects (CHF; Thursday).
• Site investigation for underground projects; flow & piezometric monitoring (DHB; Friday).

Week Six (Westport Field Station; 25th to 29th March)

Week Six involves a five-day field trip based at the Westport Field Station. The field trip runs Monday to Friday, and the following are included subject to weather or other constraints:

• Travel Christchurch to Westport on Monday via Rapahoe (coastal erosion) and Punakaiki (rock stability).
• Coal mining & geotechnical/environmental issues on the Stockton Plateau (Bathurst Mining; Tuesday).
• Engineering geology & geomorphology of Denniston escarpment and Lower Buller Gorge (Wednesday).
• Student presentations and completion of individual assessment exercises at Field Station (Thursday).
• Travel Westport to Murchison via Inangahua, returning to Christchurch via Lewis Pass (Friday).

Course Coordinator

David Bell


Assessment for ENGE 417 in 2019 will comprise the following weighting in terms of learning outcomes:

• Development of a written site investigation proposal (Learning Outcomes 1 and 5) – worth 15%.
• Portfolio of data collected in the field primarily by observation (Learning Outcomes 1 and 2) – worth 30%.
• Technical reporting in writing & verbally to a specialist audience (Learning Outcomes 3, 4 and 5) – worth 40%.
• Reporting orally to non-specialist stakeholders (Learning Outcomes 4 and 5) – worth 15%.

Specific items of assessment on a week-by-week basis are as follows:

• Week 2: Cass field trip exercises (Castle Hill Quarry, Ribbonwood Fan, field notebooks, oral report) –  25%
• Weeks 3 to 5: Groynes Park field and laboratory exercise, day field trip observations, oral reporting –   35%
• Weeks 3 to 5: Submitted class coursework as required for individual segments (detail to be advised) – 10%
• Week 6: Westport field trip (Stockton exercises, Denniston exercise, oral presentations, notebooks) –   30%

Textbooks / Resources

Reference Text for PMEG Course

Gonzalez de Vallejo, L I; Ferrer, M (2011) Geological Engineering  1st edition, CRC Press, 678p

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $2,321.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 10 people apply to enrol.

Limited Entry Course

Maximum enrolment is 30

For further information see School of Earth and Environment on the department and colleges page.

All ENGE417 Occurrences

  • ENGE417-21T1 (C) Term One 2021