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Engineering Geology and Geomorphology of Glaciated and Periglaciated Terrains: Engineering Group Working Party Report


In 2010 the Engineering Geology Group set up a steering committee to review the current state of knowledge and art arising from former Quaternary periglacial and glacial ground conditions. The instruction was to provide a book with a strong emphasis on practical interpretation, while being concise and digestible.

This book is the result. It is quite simply a tour de force, a clear and complete synthesis of the combined disciplines of geomorphology, geotechnics and geology as they relate to glacial and periglacial terrains, rolled up into one rather handy bible. Mission accomplished!

The scope of the book follows a systematic description of types of sediments, structures, landforms and geomorphology of such terrains. This forms one third of the book, and amounts to an atlas and framework or ‘architecture’ of unconsolidated soils. A very significant undertaking, which has excellent photography and abundant cross referencing to allow the practitioner to follow up a line of observation and reasoning.

This is followed by a detailed description of ground models, material properties and potential geohazards. In turn this provides a basis of specification for Engineering Investigation and Assessment, Design and Construction considerations. This is accompanied by a variety of illustrative case studies taken from various parts of the world.

The central tenet of the work is that through a conceptual ground model approach, practitioners will be able to predict the likely materials that are liable to be encountered. Although, be warned, one can always find ways of seeing what one is expecting to see.

The language used is particularly noteworthy as each of the disciplines has erstwhile evolved different terminologies; here there has been an attempt to reconcile some of those differences. The result is both detailed and succinct, an example of a writing technique for other specialists to follow.

The examples are mainly taken from previously published sources, dominantly British and European, but there are some from North America and elsewhere, covering the Northern Hemisphere down to 40 degrees North, but the antipodes are not ignored.

In my view any geologist, engineering geologist or geotechnical specialist who is engaged in practical field work, or the commissioning and interpretation of site investigation reports, ought to be making arrangements to place a copy of this book at their elbow.

Reviewed by Arthur Tingley

Engineering Geology and Geomorphology of Glaciated and Periglacial Terrains by Griffiths J S and Martin C J (Eds) Geological Society Engineering Geology Special Publication No.28; 2017. List Price: £120.00. Fellows Price: £60.00. W: