Engineering Geology

Engineering geology is the application of all branches of geologic sciences to the practical problems of engineering. The Illinois State Geological Survey has recognized the importance of this discipline with the establishment of a section devoted to engineering geology starting in 1927. Engineering geology is concerned with naturally occurring properties of materials of the earth (rocks, soil and water) below or at the surface of the earth and their impact on manmade structures. Investigation and collected data are beneficial to civil, mining, and structural engineers, architects, developers, building contractors, government agencies, and the general public.


To provide expertise on the property behavior of earth materials for foundations and underground construction; to perform tests to analyze their properties; and to investigate and report on the potential impacts of natrual and human-caused hazards such as landslides, coal mine subsidence, and earthquakes.

Projects and Services

Coal Mine Subsidence

  • Have documented characteristics of coal mine subsidence over abandoned mines and active mines
  • Provide information on coal mine subsidence characteristics to homeowners
  • Provide contacts for possible assistance
  • Maintain a database on mine subsidence case histories


  • Provide information on earthquake history and general effects in central United States
  • Take measurements of and provide information on soil characteristics that affect amplification of earthquake ground motion by soils
  • Classify and map soils for earthquake ground motion amplification and liquefaction (maps are available on CUSEC Web site)
  • Coordinate Central United States Earthquake consortium (CUSEC) mapping projects for state geologists
  • Serve as liaison with Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) in development of earthquake exercises
  • Foundation/structure problems
  • Provide information to explain what may be causing damage
  • Provide general information and suggestions to mitigate damage


  • Maintain a database on case histories
  • Produce landslide potential maps
  • Earthquake induced landslide analysisa
  • Particle size laboratory
  • Maintain database of analysis results

Siting Issues

  • Provide reviews and reports on natrual and man-made hazards that could effect construction of facilities
  • Provide material property and construction condition information

Soil and Rock Mechanics Laboratories

  • Provide expertise on property behavior of soil and rock materials
  • Maintain rock properties database