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Roles and responsibilities: Geologists

Engineering geologists

General areas of responsibility

A practicing engineering geologist:

  • Works in all project phases from planning through location, design, construction, and maintenance.
  • Specializes in:
    • Evaluating geologic site characteristics to determine the responses of geologic processes and materials to development activities, such as removal of vegetation, site grading, buildings, and civil works.
    • Construction activities such as earthwork.
    • Applying loads in foundations and embankments.
    • Use of earth materials in construction.
Subjects typically addressed by engineering geologists
The following examples are general guidelines, and shouldn't be considered all inclusive.
Design area Subjects addressed by engineering geologists
  • Geologically hazardous conditions (slope instability, severe erosion, susceptibility to seismic shaking, etc.)
  • Likely impacts to structures and facilities from geologic processes
  • Likely impacts on geologic processes and related resources (water quality, fish habitat, etc.) from development activities
  • Soil and rock mass strength characteristics for planning and design of cuts, fill embankments, pipelines, tunnels, foundations for structures, and drainage facilities
  • Construction activities such as earthwork, foundations, and drainage installation, to verify that construction is completed in accordance with design
  • Recommendations, if differing ground conditions could change design
  • Site characteristics encountered during construction, to verify that no adverse changes have occurred
  • Geologic processes following construction, to verify that no adverse changes have occurred
  • Consultation related to maintenance of facilities


General areas of responsibility

A practicing hydrogeologist:

  • Specializes in the study and analysis of ground water and other fluids as they move within the geologic environment.
  • Works in:
    • Ground water well design, construction supervision, and testing
    • Remediation of soil and ground water at contaminated sites
    • Impact analysis of proposed manmade structures on the environment as they may relate to water.
    • Modification of ground water flow.
Design area and subjects addressed by hydrogeologists
The following examples are general guidelines, and shouldn't be considered all inclusive.
Design area Subjects addressed by hydrogeologists
  • Hydrogeologic environment
  • Availability of ground water resources for potable and other uses
  • Site and design municipal wells or wells for individual sites
  • Evaluation of contaminants in ground water
  • Design of dewatering facilities
  • Local issues such as ground water flooding
  • Well construction
  • Installation of dewatering systems
  • Management of contaminants encountered during construction
  • Water resource uses, to verify that drawdowns are as predicted
  • Cleanup of contaminants in the ground water environment
  • Effectiveness of dewatering systems


State law requires anyone offering services to the public as an Engineering Geologist or a Hydrogeologist to have a specialist license. Most geologic services related to buildings, structures, or civil works fall within the realm of these 2 geologist specialties.

Questions? Need help?

Email us: DFCcompliance@dol.wa.gov

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