Product has been added to the basket
Shopping Basket
Basket is empty
Item has been added to bibliography

Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation

Product Code: SP473
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by E. P. F. Rose, J. Ehlen and U. L. Lawrence
Publication Date: 15 January 2019
There is 1 review for this product | Add a review


This book complements the Geological Society’s Special Publication 362: Military Aspects of Hydrogeology. Generated under the auspices of the Society’s History of Geology and Engineering Groups, it contains papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Substantial papers describe some innovative engineering activities, influenced by geology, undertaken by the armed forces of the opposing nations in World War I. These activities were reactivated and developed in World War II. Examples include trenching from World War I, tunnelling and quarrying from both wars, and the use of geologists to aid German coastal fortification and Allied aerial photographic interpretation in World War II. The extensive introduction and other chapters reveal that ‘military geology’ has a longer history. These chapters relate to pre-twentieth century coastal fortification in the UK and the USA; conflict in the American Civil War; long-term ‘going’ assessments for German forces; tunnel repair after wartime route denial in Hong Kong; and tunnel detection after recent insurgent improvisation in Iraq.

Published online 08/01/2019. Print copies available from 15/01/2019.

Other Societies rate: please see the Bookshop FAQ for a list of qualifying membership organisations.

Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 978-1-78620-394-6
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 314
Weight: 0.88 kg



Rose, E. P. F., Ehlen, J. & Lawrence, U. L. Military use of geologists and geology: a historical overview and introduction

Coastal fortification

Bromhead, E. N. The landslip-damaged Roman fort at Lympne in SE England

Mather, J. D. Groundwater supplies to maritime and coastal defences in southern England: a story of risk and innovation

Henderson, S. W. American coastal defence Third System forts: how geomorphology and geology dictated placement and influenced history

Häusler, H. The northern Atlantic Wall: German engineering geology work in Norway during World War II


Doyle, P. Trench construction and engineering geology on the Western Front, 1914–18

Willig, D. German military geology and military mining on the Eastern Front in World War I

Rose, E. P. F. Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers in World War I: a geologically constrained innovation to support British armies on the Western Front

Rose, E. P. F. Quarrying Companies Royal Engineers in World War II: contributions to military infrastructure within the UK and to Allied forces during the North African, Italian and NW Europe campaigns

Rose, E. P. F. Tunnelling Companies Royal Engineers in World War II: excavation of bomb-proof facilities in France, Gibraltar, Malta and the UK

Mackay, A. D. Engineering geological considerations for the ‘Old’ Beacon Hill Railway Tunnel, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Bulmer, M. H. Geological considerations of contemporary military tunnelling near Mosul, northern Iraq

Terrain evaluation

Harrelson, D. W., Torres, N., Tillotson, A. & Zakikhani, M. Geological influence of the Great Red River Raft on the Red River Campaign of the American Civil War

Rose, E. P. F. Aerial photographic intelligence during World War II: contributions by some distinguished British geologists

Malm, F. One hundred years of cross-country mobility prediction in Germany



Richard Porter

This Special Publication is a companion volume to the Society’s Special Publication 362 ‘Military Aspects of Hydrogeology’ published in 2012. Both publications were generated under the auspices of the Society’s History of Geology Group and the Hydrogeological Group (SP 362) and the Engineering Group (this volume). The papers of this volume were derived from a joint meeting between the two groups, held at Burlington House in November 2016.

There are fifteen papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. They cover a diverse range of topics from third century Roman forts in South East England and coastal defence forts in nineteenth century USA, through aspects of geological influence in both World Wars, to the Islamic State’s use of tunnelling in northern Iraq as recently as 2017.

The first paper is a historical overview by the three editors and forms an excellent introduction to the military use of geology and geologists. This overview covers topics including Napoleon taking geologists on his military expedition to North Africa as early as 1798; the use of geologists in the military in the nineteenth century in Europe; both World Wars, focussing on British, American and German geologists; the Cold War period; and tunnelling in Mosul. This paper, along with many of the others, is very well illustrated with photographs and maps, many of which are in colour. The other chapters are gathered into three sections, which are Coastal Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Analysis.

As one might expect, several papers are devoted to the use of geology and the geologists involved in both World Wars, with topics ranging from the German Northern Atlantic Wall in Norway, to tunnelling and trench construction on both the Western and Eastern Fronts in World War 1. Two comprehensive papers on the Quarrying Companies of The Royal Engineers in both World Wars are well illustrated in colour and black and white, and give a good overview of the operations and personnel involved, as well as the extent of their activities.

If you are only to read one other chapter after the editors’ exceptional overview, I would recommend Bulmer’s ‘Geological considerations of contemporary military tunnelling near Mosul, northern Iraq.’ Although I work in a Military Environment, the level of sophistication and equipment used was an eye opener for me and I expect it might be for many others also.

This volume will appeal to geologists, military historians and military personnel and is highly recommended

Please login to submit review.

Back to search results

You pay
£ 110.00 each

List price: £ 110.00
Fellow's price: £ 55.00
Other societies price: £ 66.00
View this item in the Lyell Collection

What is the Lyell Collection?

Find out more about the Lyell Collection at

What is the Lyell Collection