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ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY

3 VIEWS OF WHAT ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY IS


1.
(Textbook definition 1) A branch of ecology in that it deals with relationships between man
and his geological habitat; it is concerned with the problems that people have in using the
earth, and the reaction of the earth to that use.
2.

(Textbook definition 2) Application of geologic information to solving conflicts, minimizing


environmental degradation, or maximizing possible advantageous conditions resulting from
mans use of the natural and modified environment.

3.

The Osborn view..

ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGICAL STUDIES INCLUDE:


1.
Evaluation of natural hazards.
2.

Evaluation of landscape for site selection, land-use planning, impact analysis.

3.

Evaluation of earth materials re potential (a) use as resources, b) use for waste disposal, c)
effects on human health.

A FEW EXAMPLES
1.
Geochemistry and health
2.

Volcanic hazards evaluation


Long-range
Predict future on basis of past activity; includes mapping of ash, mudflows,
etc.
Short-range
Heat flow, earthquakes, gas temperatures

3.

Coastal erosion
Stabilization measures create different problems or transfer problems elsewhere

4.

Land subsidence
e.g. extraction of fluids (groundwater, oil/gas):
pore pressure declines compaction subsidence
Examples: Houston/Galveston
3m
S-central Arizona
2.2 m
Las Vegas
1m
London, England
0.7 m
Mexico City
7m
Tokyo
4 m (2 million people below high-tide sea level)

5.

Behavior of sediments
e.g. problems with Bankers Hall excavation in downtown Calgary

6.

River/land relations
Duisburg, Germany: Ruhr River near confluence with Rhine
Ruhr Industrial District: largest inland port in world
45 km of wharves, cargo-handling equipment
Progressive straightening of Rhine in 20th century for navigation increased gradient
degradation lowering of river (2.2 m since 1900)
Wharves too high, future of port in jeopardy
But 3 coal seams below harbor area; if they could be mined the wharves would
subside.....