ENGE417-22T1 (C) Term One 2022

Foundations of Engineering Geology

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 14 February 2022
End Date: Sunday, 3 April 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 20 February 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 18 March 2022


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. The 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 and engineering geomorphology is emphasised in ENGE417, and a wide range of geological environments and landscapes are to be visited. An introduction to the basics of engineering construction principles is also essential for the engineering geologist, and this is addressed by site visits, visiting speakers, and contact with professionals in related disciplines. Engineering geology is about the applications of Geology in Engineering.

ENGE417 consists of six weeks of formal tuition, and includes 15 field days with 12 days consecutively based at Westport and Cass Field Stations and three 1-day local Canterbury field trips. The course commences on Monday 22nd February at the start of Term 1 with a two-day introduction to the PMEG programme and Engineering Geology fundamentals: sessions include participating staff, consultants, and general briefing regarding course expectations.

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, and hard hat: as professionals students are expected to provide their own safety equipment. Other field equipment (eg geological compasses/gloves) will be provided by the School of Earth and Environment. Normal COVID-19 protocols will apply depending on the prevailing Alert Level at the time: if you are not well stay home and keep the coordinator informed.

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Plan for a site investigation to be conducted in a professional and safe manner, including outcomes and data requirements, within the cultural and regulatory environment at that site.
2. Conduct a ground investigation for engineering purposes using field observations and mapping, including face, trench and core logging. Geophysical surveys may be incorporated depending on equipment availability.
3. Use of site investigation data and methods to develop and present engineering ground models. This is the basis of engineering geology investigations, and field notebooks must be to a high standard.
4. Analyse the geology and geomorphology of a site to deduce its geological evolution, and to infer future ground behaviour. This includes remote data review and site-specific field observations.
5. Communicate professionally in writing and orally on the site investigation process, results and engineering implications for specific projects in both civil and mining.

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 equivalent


ENGE410, ENGE415, ENGE471, ENGE486

Recommended Preparation

BSc Geology or equivalent

Timetable 2022

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01-P1 Monday 10:00 - 16:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab
21 Feb - 27 Feb
01-P2 Monday 09:00 - 13:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab
7 Mar - 3 Apr
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 09:00 - 13:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab
21 Feb - 27 Feb
7 Mar - 3 Apr
Field Trip A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 08:00 - 16:00 21 Feb - 27 Feb
Field Trip B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 08:30 - 16:30 Westport (25/2)
Cass (25/2)
21 Feb - 27 Feb
Field Trip C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 08:00 - 16:00 North Canterbury
7 Mar - 13 Mar
Field Trip D
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 08:00 - 16:00 South Canterbury
14 Mar - 20 Mar
Field Trip E
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 08:00 - 16:00 28 Mar - 3 Apr

Timetable Note

Programme Introduction (22nd & 23rd February)

The first two days of ENGE417 are based at the University campus, commencing at 9.00am each morning in Room 213, Ernest Rutherford Building, unless otherwise advised. The following are scheduled:

• Monday 22nd February: Meet with programme staff & Head of School (9am-12noon); group lunch 12.30pm (Zyka, Ilam Road); guest lectures by recent graduates (2-4pm).
• Tuesday 23rd February: Ground models and their geotechnical importance (Clark Fenton, 9-11am); group lunch at Room 205, Fendalton Road; Geo-logic and the art of geotechnical practice (David Bell, 2-4pm).

As the PMEG class departs from the University campus at 8.00am on Wednesday 24th February for 10 days of field-based tuition, a full briefing will be provided on personal expectations and PPE requirements.

Westport Field Station (24th February to 1st March)

On Wednesday 24th February the group will travel via the Lewis Pass and Reefton, arriving at the Westport Field Station by approximately 6.00pm. Technical stops will be made en route, and over the 5-day period at Westport various sites or projects are to be visited. Details are still being finalised, but are expected to include the following:

• Globe Mine, Reefton, post-closure environmental remediation and related pit-slope stability issues.
• Water race reconstruction for the original (1888) hydro-electric power scheme servicing Reefton township.
• Pike River underground coal mine site and technical briefing on the post-2010 explosion recovery works.
• Stockton opencast mine operated by Bathurst Resources for extraction of high quality export coking coal.
• Various hard- and soft-rock sites (limestone, mudstone, granite/gneiss, porphyry, breccia & greywacke).
• Landscape development processes and tectonic influences, including sites of recent fault movement.

PPE (hi-vis, hard hat, safety footwear) is required at all technical stops. Safety glasses are to be carried. Tuition in the field station at Westport is planned in the evenings, and at various times during the day.

Cass Field Station (1st March to 5th March)

On the morning of Monday 1st March the group departs Westport after clean-up, and will travel via the Taramakau and Otira valleys to the Cass Field Station near Arthurs Pass. Expected arrival time is approximately 5pm, and various technical stops will be made. Emphasis will be placed on glaciated landscapes and on active fluvial/debris flow processes impacting both infrastructure and settlements, together with deep-seated landsliding in Tertiary rocks. A stop is planned on the Alpine Fault at Inchbonnie, and field work from Cass may include the following:

• Postglacial fan development and stability/maintenance issues along the Mt White Station access road.
• Mapping and evaluation of long-term stability of the Slovens Creek Landslide affecting the Midland Line.
• Glacial geomorphology and active fan development in the Winding Creek valley on Flock Hill Station.
• Geomorphic mapping of the Ribbonwood Fan and a summary of fan evolution following ice retreat.
• Mapping of the Broken River Bridge Landslide and development of a block model identifying controls.
• Compilation of a 3-D block model and geomorphic map of the 2019 Castle Hill Quarry Landslide

PPE requirements are high-vis jackets and safety footwear at all sites. Hard hats and safety glasses are to be carried, and used where appropriate or where instructed. Expected return is 4pm on Friday 5th March.

Seminars, Tutorials & Field Work

In Weeks 3 to 6, Monday to Wednesday of each week is allocated to ENGE417. ENGE412 Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering is scheduled for the corresponding Thursday and Friday, with emphasis on the Rock Mechanics component of that course. The Wednesdays of Weeks 3 to 5 are allocated to field work, and the following topics will be addressed by way of seminar, lectures and/or workshops:

• Rock weathering and engineering soil formation, with emphasis on the basics of geotechnical analysis.
• Landslide processes, investigation, monitoring, and remote sensing methods in geomorphic analysis.
• Fluvial systems and related management issues, debris flows and lifeline corridor terrain analysis.
• Coastal and offshore engineering geology investigation/design methods and selected case studies.
• Introductory hydrology & flow measurement, bedrock hydrogeology & springs, and aquifer systems.
• Engineering geophysics principles, methods and case studies (one-day course; Southern Geophysical)
• Site investigation principles and practices, engineering geology field methods, and selected case studies.
• Site investigation exercise involving test-pit & face logging, shallow geotechnical testing, and reporting.
• Geotechnical and engineering geology report writing, with examples and a review of fundamentals.

The following one-day field trips are planned for Weeks 3 to 5, commencing at 8am and returning to campus about 6pm. Students are expected to take field notes and work on exercise material that is provided in advance.

• Opuha dam site, South Canterbury.
• Infrastructure repair, coastal Kaikoura.
• Coringa Landslide & Motunau cliff collapse.

Full PPE (hi-vis jacket, hard hat, safety footwear) will be required. Safety glasses are to be carried.

Course Coordinator

David Bell


Assessment for ENGE 417 will include the following:

• Development of a site investigation proposal (Learning Outcomes 1 and 5).
• Portfolio of data collected in the field (Learning Outcomes 1 and 2).
• Technical reporting to a specialist audience (Learning Outcomes 3, 4 and 5).
• Reporting to non-specialist stakeholders (Learning Outcomes 4 and 5).

Specific assessment items are as follows, but with flexibility to allow for weather or other unforeseen factors:

1. Westport/Cass field trip specific exercises/mapping – 30%
2. Westport/Cass field books (Weeks 1 & 2) – 20%
3. Site investigation review report (due end Week 4) – 20%
4. Site investigation field report (details to be advised) – 20%
5. Field books covering specific field trips in Weeks 3-5* – 10%
*books to be taken in & assessed at various times during 6 week period

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 $2,361.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, 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 departments and faculties page .

All ENGE417 Occurrences

  • ENGE417-22T1 (C) Term One 2022