Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia

Engineering Geology



Academic unit

Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia


Departamento de Ciências da Terra



Teacher in charge

Ana Paula Fernandes da Silva, Pedro Calé da Cunha Lamas

Weekly hours


Total hours


Teaching language



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.


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.

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.

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.

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

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.


ASSOCIAÇÃO BRASILEIRA de GEOLOGIA DE ENGENHARIA (1998) - Geologia de Engenharia. Páginas e Letras, Editora Gráfica, São Paulo.

HOEK E., KAISER P. K. & BAWDEN W. F. (1995) - Support of underground excavations in hard rock, A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 27-56 e 127-164.

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR ROCK MECHANICS (1977) - Suggested methods for the quantitative description of discontinuities in rock masses. Commission on Standardization of Laboratory and Field Tests, Lisbon.

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR ROCK MECHANICS (1981) - Basic geotechnical description of rock masses. Commission on Classification of Rock and Rock Masses, Document n. 1, Lisbon.

JOHNSON, R.B. & De GRAFF, J.V. (1988) – Principles of Engineering Geology, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

VALLEJO L. I. G. (ed.), (2002) - Ingenieria geologica. Prentice Hall, Madrid.

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 (80% of the final grade): Two tests, both with a grade of 40%. Minimum classification of 9,0 values ​​in 20 for both tests; otherwise, a final theoretical and practical exam will be held. 

2 - Laboratory Evaluation: report of the practical work done in the laboratory (10% of the final grade); the performance and delivery of the work requires the attendance in the respective classes of the students who signed the report. At most two students must conduct each report, otherwise it may be individual.

3 - Summative Component (10% of the final grade): consists of the set of written answers to n questions of equal weight placed during practical classes, without previous notice. The questions will be classified from 0 to 20 values, being evaluated the n-1 best questions.

Thus, the final grade will be based on the following expression: (1)*0,80 + (2)*0,10 + (3)*0,10

A minimum of 9,5 is required as passing grade.

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