Approaches to environmental geology




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University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology


"Environmental Geology" is by now a part of the vocabulary of most geologists. The term rather simply connotes the application of geology, geologic techniques, and geologic reasoning to the broad environmental concerns of society. The term is not, nor should it be, precisely defined. Environmental geology is clearly not a subdiscipline of geology, but it does embrace a large involvement and wide application of geology. There are several approaches that may be taken in the application of geology to environmental problems. The breadth of geology as a discipline and the range of problems of an environmental nature assure the variety. The approach of geologists who participate in or respond to environmental impact statements involving a specific problem or area differs from the approach of geologists who seek to develop data for baseline inventory and comprehensive planning. The objectives, and hence approach, of geologists in the public sector may well differ from the approach of geologists in the private and corporate sector. Geology applied to natural hazard environments (earthquake zones, landslide, and highly eroding shorelines) obviously nets a more dramatic product than geology applied to more subtle problems. Scale and scope modify the geologic approach, with regional analysis differing from local and specific applications. And finally, in addition to these inherent variations in approach, several more important factors must be considered: the long-term fate of environmental and resource management, the requisite kind and degree of management, and the existing technical options. The question ultimately is whether the geologic discipline should contribute only to management schemes established by others or should it also be involved in the development of management plans. Obviously, response to these broad questions will fundamentally influence approaches to environmental geology. Presentation of environmental geologic data is shaped by both the intended audience and the purpose, but it is also basically a product reflecting the geologic approach taken.


268 pages


geology, mapping, coastal zone, coastal landforms, coastal morphology, coastal processes, flood plains, geological data, geological maps, geomorphology, geological structures