General Information

The Engineering Geology and Site Characterization Committee provides leadership in applying geologic principles to solve engineering and environmental problems through accurate site characterization by participating in and sponsoring GeoInstitute of ASCE activities and liaison with other committees and professional societies. Learn more.

Documents about the History of the EGSC Committee


History of the EGSC Committee

Jeffrey R. Keaton, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Los Angeles, CA

The EGSC committee is the oldest technical committee in ASCE. In July 1950, US Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) engineering geologist William R. Judd wrote a memo to R.F. Blanks, chief of the Laboratories Division of the Bureau and a member of the ASCE Soil Mechanics and Foundation Division (Division) Executive Committee recommending that the Division establish a new committee to “encompass and deal with all problems pertinent to engineering geology” (McClure et al., 1991, p. 136).

The Executive Committee of the Division appointed an ad hoc committee to organize the new committee consisting of the following individuals:
• A.E. Cummings, Raymond Concrete Pile Company (Chair)
• R.F. Blanks, US Bureau of Reclamation
• E.B. Burwell, US Army Corps of Engineers
• S. Paige, Columbia University
• K. Terzaghi, Harvard University

The ad hoc committee concluded in 1951 that a real need existed for improved cooperation between engineers and geologists and recommended that the best way for developing such cooperation was by means of a joint committee composed of engineers interested in geology and geologists interested in engineering. The ad hoc committee further recommended that the joint committee be formed of members from the ASCE Soil Mechanics and Foundation Division and the Engineering Geology Division of the Geological Society of America (GSA‐EGD), with three administrative members from ASCE and two from GSA‐EGD with an ASCE member as chair.

On March 3, 1952, the committee was approved by ASCE
as an activity of the Division with the following members:
• K. Terzaghi, Harvard University (Chair)
• R. Rhoades, US Bureau of Reclamation (Secretary)
• E.B. Burwell, US Army Corps of Engineers
• H.O. Ireland, University of Illinois
• R.W. Spencer, Southern California Edison
• W.R. Judd, US Bureau of Reclamation (nonvoting member)

The first meeting of the committee was held in St. Louis on January 24, 1953. Four task committees were established with the following titles:
1. Nomenclature and Engineering Properties of Shales
2. Nomenclature and Engineering Properties of Rock, Exclusive of Shales
3. Products of Weathering of Bedrocks and Their Engineering Properties
4. Influence of Geological Factors on Tunnel Construction

Task Committee 3 sponsored a symposium at the GSA meeting in November 1955 and again at the ASCE meeting in February 1957. Task Committee 4 sponsored a symposium at the ASCE meeting in June 1955. Reports of the four task committees were produced in 1959. The committee’s purpose was modified in 1958 “To keep the membership of the two organizations informed on the progress and developments in the field of engineering geology, particularly as applied to civil engineering problems, and still more particularly as such problems are related to soil mechanics and foundation conditions” (McClure et al., 1991, p. 136). The management board of the GSA‐EGD and the Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG) in 1974 requested expansion of the joint committee to include representatives of AEG. The executive committee of the ASCE Geotechnical Engineering Division approved the request and the GSA Council ratified the expansion. In 1975, the joint committee became the ASCE‐GSA‐AEG Committee on Engineering Geology. The committee name was changed to Engineering Geology and Site Characterization (date uncertain, but during Gordon Matheson’s term as
chair). The ASCE was founded in 1852. The GSA was founded in 1888. The Engineering Geology Division of GSA was formed in 1947. The AEG was founded in 1957 as the California Association of Engineering Geologists; the word “California” was dropped in 1962 and the first formal AEG section outside California was established in 1963. The Soil Mechanics and Foundation Division of ASCE became the Geotechnical Engineering Division in 1974 and the Geo‐Institute in 1997.

Reference: McClure, C.R., Sorrough, G.L., Gray, R.E., Galster, R.W., Varnes, D.J., and Kiersch, G.A, 1991, Professional practice and societal organizations, in Kiersch, G.A., ed., The heritage of engineering geology; The first hundred years: Boulder, CO, Geological Society of America, Centennial Special Volume 3, pg. 129‐147.

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