Skip to Content

Articles, News & Updates

Featured Author - Tony Waltham, Foundations of Engineering Geology

Tony Waltham lives in Nottingham, UK, having now retired from many years as a university lecturer in engineering geology. the third edition of his best selling book, Foundations in Engineering Geology, is now in full color, and provides a readable and highly illustrated overview of the aspects of geology that are most significant to civil engineers

View all Civil Engineering Book of the Month articles.

View all Civil Engineering Author of the Month articles.

View all Built Environment Support Materials articles.

Can I start by asking you why geology is so important to the discipline of civil engineering?

Well that’s fairly easy, I used to say this to my students, “You’re a civil engineer, not an aeronautical engineer and consequently every single thing you build sits on the ground. Therefore, you need to know something about the ground, to make sure your building’s going to stay up or your structure’s going to stay where you think it should.” It’s as simple as that really isn’t it. The geology underpins it all - there are so many puns we could use here!

The book has an unusual format, each chapter is a double-page spread. Can you tell me why you decided to write it in this format?

Because it was accessible. It started off as a series of lecture notes and the lecture notes were one or two pages; they were condensed into that, and then one lecture became a spread, and that’s it. And then the idea. Actually let’s give credit here to where it should be, to the publishers Mitchell Beazley and Hugh Johnson who wrote the Atlas of Wine. It was a huge seller; they had a winner with it. And it was because, instead of being a great stream of text, eight chapters all on European wines or whatever it might be, it was all done in blocks and pieces and bite-size chunks. So I suppose really the idea came from that, beyond that I just developed it into the format you’ve got here. And it seemed to work.

The current edition is the third edition of The Foundations of Engineering Geology, can you summarize what has changed or been updated for this edition?

Well, how much has changed? Funnily enough you know, engineering geology doesn’t change a lot, the rocks are still the same as they were ten years ago! I suppose the one place where there’s been significant change is in the whole bit on site investigation and how an engineer approaches the problems of what there is in the ground. The biggest change has been the sources of information, with our wonderful friend the web And of course we’ve got new data in places and we’ve got new examples in, a few new case studies, and things which have happened more recently which are more fun.

How did you get into engineering geology as a discipline and what have the highlights of your career been?

Well I got into engineering geology by default, because I started off in mining. Then the decline of the mining industry, in Britain in particular (we’re talking now about some years ago), meant that there was less demand for mining geologists and at the same time the demand for civil engineering geologists was increasing considerably. So I shifted disciplines within the university and got more into this side. I’ve always been into the applied side. I’ve never been a theoretical man. I like the practical bit, the nuts and bolts. It’s either where is the mineral deposit, why is it there. Or where is the hole in the ground and why is it there - if you’re building on top of it.


Tony Waltham’s favorite section of the book to write was … Well that has to be, number 29, the bit on limestone, for a totally trivial reason - that is limestone has got caves in it (and) I’ve been a caver for many years.
So, as a geologist, I have seen more of the inside of the ground than quite a lot of other geologiststhrough the UK.


Related Products

  1. Foundations of Engineering Geology, Third Edition

    By Tony Waltham

    Now in full colour, the third edition of this well established book provides a readable and highly illustrated overview of the aspects of geology that are most significant to civil engineers. Sections in the book include those devoted to the main rock types, weathering, ground investigation, rock...

    Published April 21st 2009 by CRC Press

  2. Geotechnical Engineering, Second Edition

    By Renato Lancellotta

    Established as a standard textbook for students of geotechnical engineering, this second edition of Geotechnical Engineering provides a solid grounding in the mechanics of soils and soil-structure interaction. Renato Lancellotta gives a clear presentation of the fundamental principles of soil...

    Published July 22nd 2008 by CRC Press

  3. In Situ Testing in Geomechanics

    The Main Tests

    By Fernando Schnaid

    Demanding a thorough knowledge of material behaviour and numerical modelling, site characterisation and in situ test interpretation are no longer just basic empirical recommendations. Giving a critical appraisal of the understanding and assessment of the stress-strain-time and strength...

    Published December 15th 2008 by CRC Press

  4. The Mechanics of Soils and Foundations, Second Edition

    By John Atkinson

    Ideal for undergraduates of geotechnical engineering for civil engineers, this established textbook sets out the basic theories of soil mechanics in a clear and straightforward way; combining both classical and critical state theories and giving students a good grounding in the subject which will...

    Published May 14th 2007 by CRC Press