I am a practicing Geological Engineer with specializations in Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology. But I choose to call myself and my new website Geopractitioner. Why?
- I cannot call myself a Geotechnical Engineer in California because there is a legal restriction on the title “Geotechnical Engineer” – only those licensed Civil Engineers with Geotechnical Engineer license can call themselves “Geotechnical Engineer”. I do not have a GE license; got 8 others but not that one.
- Geotechnical Engineering is now largely Soils Engineering. Indeed: the law that restricts the use of Geotechnical Engineer to licensed GEs, also restricts the use of Soils Engineer to GEs. Hence, at least in California, Geotechnical Engineer=Soils Engineer. And in California, geotechnical engineers mainly work with soil and know relatively little, and often care little, about rock and rock engineering.
- The characterization and engineering of rock masses is now mainly left to the consideration of Geological Engineers and Engineering Geologists. So, at least to many Geotechnical Engineers, Geological Engineer=Rock Engineer
- Most Geotechnical Engineers have poor understandings of Geology and anyway consider Geology to be the domain of the Engineering Geologist. Certainly Engineering Geologists tend to regard Geology as a discipline best left to Geologists rather than Engineers and many are protective of their terrane. (You have to be geologist to get the terrain/terrane reference…)
As practiced in Canada and parts of the USA, Geotechnical Engineering used to be one of the four major divisions of Geological Engineering, together with Engineering Geophysics, Mineral Exploration and Environmental Engineering.
Since my early Geotechnical Engineering training as a Geological Engineer, my 30 years of subsequent experience in Geological Engineering has embraced the general understanding of geology, rock, soil and water, as well as the the uncertainties inherent in engineering characterization, design and construction in/of earth materials. I have also a background in mineral exploration, especially exploration geophysics. I am an international authority on the characterization of bimrocks, complex mixtures of hard rocks and weak rocks/soils. I have understanding in fluvial and coastal geomorphology and ocean engineering. And I am well experienced in air photo analysis. I am licensed/chartered/registered as an engineer and geologist in three countries.
So: what am I? A Geological Engineer? Certainly – but I have a background that is far broader than Rock Engineering. An Engineering Geologist? Yes – but I am very comfortable with Geotechnical Engineering to the extent I have two graduate degrees in the field.
Being such a generalist, practiced and practicing in a variety of “geo” areas, I thus consider myself a Geopractitioner. Indeed my most recent paper flies my new flag : “Geopractitioner approaches to working with anti-social melanges”. And, it is with the broad perspective of a Geopractitioner that I identify, approach and help solve the broad problems of my clients. Or at least those that retain me….