My experience as a licensed geologist in Texas

The attached comments speak for themselves.


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  1. Comment

    Excellent commentary, Jim! Points out the widespread ignorance as to the broad variety of work done by geologists...and needing their particular professional skills. Numerous practice areas beyond O&G, mining, & environmental. Much of my 33+ years of geo-practice has been in these "obscure" areas....groundwater resource evaluation/development, engineering geology, hydrogeologic components of UIC projects, Geologic Assessments to comply w/ TCEQ Edwards Aquifer rules, etc.

  2. Comment

    Prior to my joining my company 14 years ago (long before the PG went into affect) my company was performing environmental work under a TCEQ contract. Evidentally they had several professionals in my position before I was hired. They were engineers, biologists and earth scientists. We almost lost that contract because none had a proper understanding of geology, which was considered to be vital by the TCEQ coordinator. The TCEQ coordinator insisted they hire a geologist for the position. I was hired as a result and they've been very happy with us ever since.

  3. Comment

    That's great that geologists perform such a broad variety of work. There's no question that geologists are critical to these types of projects and more. Geologists are awesome, I love geologists, most of them, I work with geologists, for geologists, sometimes the other way around. Also have worked with and for engineers (civil, chemical, mechanical, nuclear), microbiologists, chemists, toxicologists, meteorologists, all in the environmental services industry but more geologists. I could not do my job without the help of the good geologists I have around me. I have worked and do work with some incredibly smart and productive geologists that I respect immensely and learn a lot from (most of them are not political activists like the ones primarily on this forum) I would never try to do my job without consulting them when appropriate. Occasionally they consult me. I don't mind working for them a bit. I don't like the complications and limitations of the geoscience licensing program in the environmental services industry. I don't think its effective or useful. I think it has some major flaws as discussed elsewhere. I've talked to my clients some of whom are geologists in the past about the licensing issue before and for the most part they seem to agree but like most have bigger things to worry about and tend to accept a certain amount of government foolishness as normal. You know what they say about "normal" though

  4. Comment

    Prior to the passage of the Geoscience Practice Act, I frequently observed examples of improperly or incompetently performed geoscientific work that had an impact on the public health and safety. This included poor identification, delineation, and remediation of contaminated groundwater; inaccurately and improperly identifying and delineating geohazards such as surface faults; and inadequately identifying and understanding slope stability issues. The work was usually performed by people who had technical degrees that were either not related to geology or had some overlap with it. Engineers were often included in this mix of non-geoscientific professionals.

    After the passage of the act, I noticed the amount of poor quality geoscientific work dropped dramatically. Areas where I continue to see problems are primarily where civil and geotechnical engineers get into difficulties because of inadequate geological training and experience. I am often called to resolve errors and omissions associated with poor understanding of geology. This in particular includes Gulf Coast surface faults. Without being licensed as a professional and assuming liability for my work, engineers and the public would not be able to rely on my work as a professional.

    According to the Geoscience Practice Act, engineers are allowed to practice geoscience provided they are competent to do so. This is because there is some overlap between geoscience and their fields. Unfortunately, in some cases they are not up to the task since many lack sufficient geological training. Soil mechanics alone cannot address all surface and subsurface factors that may be encountered in a project.

    At this time, I am under contract with an engineering firm to finish a surface fault investigation for them. This firm has called on me before to assist them and is doing so again. Their repeated problem is they continue to try to perform fault investigations that are really beyond their abilities. Additionally, I recently finished a surface fault study where I was hired by an architectural firm to look at a previous fault study performed by a geotechnical engineering firm. This firm had not only mis-located and mis-oriented the fault but had established a deformation zone for the fault that was unrealistically wide and quite improbable. Their mis-interpretation essentially destroyed most of the commercial value of the property. I was able to show that the fault was located at the extreme end of the property where a parking lot would be and was able to maintain the value on this expensive piece of land.

    The Geoscience Practice Act and Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists establish and enforce minimum qualifications for the practice of geoscience in Texas. The license demands that those who practice geoscience before the public are qualified to do so and are accountable for their work.

  5. Comment

    In many of my projects, I work for or with engineers. I've had a number of them tell me that they're glad that I, a PG, am doing the geologic/hydrogeologic components of "our" projects. They can be great engineers, but geoscience, particularly hydrogeology and, frequently, environmental geology, is just not in most engineers comfort-zone.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      I am also glad geologists do the geologic components of environmental projects of course. Doesn't really have anything to do with the licensing board laws.

    2. Comment
      Matthew Cowan

      It has everything to do with the licensing board law. The fact that the State, as well as 28 other states, have recognized the need to license the practice. From John's testimony the Engineering community did not want to take responsible charge for something they are not trained for.

  6. Comment

    The comment that “geologists do the geologic components of environmental projects of course. Doesn't really have anything to do with the licensing board laws” is untrue. The licensing board ensures that the work is being conducted by an appropriately trained geoscientist, as per the board regulations that regulate not only past training but continuing education.