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Reconciling Past and Future Worlds: Geology and Ground Engineering

Planning for and constructing our built environment and infrastructure for today and for the future is an immensely complex process - but ‘the ground’ is still what keeps our buildings up, and is what we cut or tunnel through to construct roads, train networks, fuel, water and sewage pipelines. We ignore it, and it’s future behaviour at our peril – it can also fail, be washed away, slip, collapse or erode. The ground, in all its complexity, is the geotechnical engineer’s principle raw material, and yet is it usually much less well understood than the concrete or steel used to construct our walls and foundations.

As engineers plan the shape of our future world, it is clear that we also need to develop the geological skills to reconcile the nature and behaviour of the ground that was deposited millions of years ago with how that same ground is going to behave, not only in relation to our newly constructed built environment, but also in 50, 100, 150 years time.

This talk looks at how the most basic of services that we use every day work in relation to the ground and how developing this infrastructure requires an increasingly sophisticated geological understanding in order to be successful for years to come.


Jackie Skipper (Geotechnical Consulting Group)


Jackie Skipper is Senior Geologist at the Geotechnical Consulting Group and a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum London. After a first career in the NHS, she became a mature student and gained a first in Geology at Greenwich in 1993. Her PhD at Imperial College London was on the stratigraphy of the complex Lambeth Group sediments of SE England, from which she went on to work as a geological consultant in the engineering industry.

Jackie has worked on the geology of a wide range of large infrastructure and construction projects, and is particularly interested in how the ground affects, and is affected by, tunnels. She is currently working on the impacts of variations in geology on tunnel, station and foundation design for the Crossrail Project, and on the ground investigation and interpretation for the Thames Water Tideway Tunnel and Lee Tunnel projects.

Dr Skipper is a passionate advocate of continuing geological education and has led hundreds of training courses and field courses, has lectured in a number of countries world-wide and has appeared on the BBC 6 o’clock News as a geological authority. She was presented with the Geological Society Engineering Group Medal in 2010 for services to the understanding of geology.



Date: 9 January 2013

Venue: The Geological Society, London

Speaker: Jackie Skipper



Naomi Newbold
Tel: 020 7432 0981