GEOL338-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Engineering and Mining Geology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021


Principles and practices of geology associated with engineering and mining activities.

2021 Covid-19 Update:
Please refer to the course page on AKO | Learn for all information about your course, including lectures, labs, tutorials, field trips and assessments.


This course is a final year course aimed at synthesizing geological knowledge and skills for applications to civil and mining engineering. Engineering Geology is a discipline concerned with site and foundation conditions, geological and geotechnical hazards affecting a particular development, and availability of construction materials. Civil site investigation practice involves evaluation using invasive techniques (drilling; trenching; etc) and requires careful consideration of the landscape, geological history and geological materials present. Mining Geology is concerned with all aspects of the mine life cycle, with geological input into exploration and resource estimation, mine design, processing, waste and decommissioning. All of these aspects are highly depended on the ore type, geological setting and geological materials present.

GEOL338 develops the basics of site investigation practice, and extends into developing engineering geology models for surface and underground projects in civil and mining engineering applications. It then focuses on interpretation of geological data for applications to mine life stages through the development of geological models. Students completing the course will develop skills and knowledge of principles and practices in both engineering and mining geology. Students will also develop professional communication skills through group work and technical writing.

Learning Outcomes

Goal of the Course
The overall goal of the course is for students to develop some of the fundamentals skills required for working in two applied streams of geology: engineering geology and mining geology. The first half of the course will focus on the application of geological techniques to engineering projects. The second half of the course will focus on mining life cycle from investigation and model building and how they affect the mine design, to ore processing, waste and mine decommissioning.

Learning Outcomes
Students successfully completing this course will be able to:
1. Describe the engineering properties of rocks and soils using geological mapping and description, and engineering geology site investigation techniques.
2. Work effectively in a team to build an engineering geology model in rock and soil to inform engineering project decisions.
3. Communicate the engineering and societal impacts of changes in the engineering geology characteristics of an engineering project over its design life.
4. Analyse exploration geology data to assess ore reserves.
5. Select appropriate mine design, ore processing, mine waste and decommissioning solutions given different ore types and reserves.

Summary of the Course Content
The topics coved by this course are:
- Effective group work and technical writing
- Engineering geology description, properties and behaviour of earth materials
- Site investigation philosophy and techniques for civil and mining engineering projects
- Development of engineering models using field and laboratory data
- Surface and underground design and construction considerations through case studies
- Mine life cycle and the application of geological assessment techniques to each stage
- Mine design principles and related geotechnical/environmental issues
- Ore processing, waste management and mine decommissioning

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Engaged with the community

Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Timetable Note

Topic 1 – Soil & Rock Description
 Weeks 1 & 2 – NZ Geotechnical Society field description procedures for rock and soil; laboratory exercises
 Week 3 – Field exercise involving hand auger drilling, logging & Scala testing (location to be advised)
 Week 4 – Laboratory analysis of field data & report write-up for field exercise; due 10th August (20%)
Topic 2 – Cliff Collapse (Redcliffs)
 Week 5 – Field exercise involving engineering geology model development in bedrock (location to be advised)
 Week 6 – Laboratory compilation of field data & report write-up for Redcliffs area; due 7th September (20%)
Topic 3 – Quarry Visit & Aggregates Exercise
 Weeks 7 & 8 – Visit to Isaac Quarry, McLeans Island; aggregate descriptions & processing requirements
 Week 9 – Submission of Quarry report & aggregate description exercise; due 25th September (10%)
Topic 4 – Mine Design Exercise
 Weeks 10-12 – Mine design exercise – Tutorials #1 & 2; report compilation (details to be advised)
 Submission of mine design exercise not later than 5pm on 16th October 2020 (10%)

Course Coordinator

David Bell


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Field & laboratory exercise 20% Field & laboratory exercise on site investigation and engineering geology models
Field & laboratory exercise 20% Field & laboratory exercise on changing properties and behaviour of geomaterials
Field & laboratory exercise 20% Field & laboratory exercise on mine design
Final examination 40% Final examination

 Laboratory topics worth 10% or 20% of the final mark for GEOL 338 (= 60% in total).
 Final 2-hour examination (date to be advised) is worth 40% of final mark for GEOL 338.

Textbooks / Resources

Required textbook(s):
There are no textbooks required for this course, and extensive handouts will be given instead.

Recommended textbook(s):
Hencher, A. (2012) Practical Engineering Geology. Available online:

Bell, F G (2007) Engineering Geology 2nd edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, 581 p.
Goodman, R.E. (1993) Engineering geology: rock in engineering construction, J. Wiley, 412 p.
Hartley, J S (1994) Drilling: Tools and Programme Management 1st edition, John S Hartley & Associates, 150 p.
Johnson, R B; De Graff, J V (1988) Principles of Engineering Geology 1st edition, John Wiley & Sons, 497 p.
Moon, C J; Whateley, M K G; Evans, A M (2006) Introduction to Mineral Exploration, 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishing, 481 p.
Moore, T A; Black, A; Centeno, J A; Harding, J S; Trumm, D A (2005) Metal Contaminants in New Zealand, 1st edition, ResolutionzPress, 490 p.
Smith, M R, (Ed) (1999) Stone: building stone, rock fill and armourstone in construction, Geological Society, London, Engineering Geology Special Publication #16.


Prerequisites: GEOL242 and GEOL246

Recommended preparation: GEOL337

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $910.00

International fee $4,438.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GEOL338 Occurrences

  • GEOL338-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021