Ground Modelling for Developed Professionals

Ground Modelling for Developed Professionals
GroundModels presents a series of exercises using typical site data to which further data can be added by purchasing virtual boreholes, to answer practical problems about the ground on site.

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The purpose of a site investigation is to identify the ground conditions which may affect a particular development and to arrive at an understanding of the site and immediate surroundings which will allow safe and economic development. (AGS Guidelines for Good Practice in Site Investigation (Issue 2) Published by the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists)

GroundModels provides a unique interactive learning system designed to raise the competence of those in Ground Engineering who have to arrive at an understanding of the site and immediate surroundings.


Learning of this kind was initiated by Dr Herbert Lapworth in his original course of Geology for Engineers for the Institution of Civil Engineers in London in 1907; Dr Lapworth was awarded the Institution’s Gold Medal for this work. His course was then transferred to what is now Imperial College London where it formed the roots for Engineering Geology.

Making such exercises inter-active was later developed at Delft University by Prof. David Price who incorporated the means of “purchasing” ground investigation data. The exercises were tested, used and developed at Imperial and proved to be immensely powerful instruments for teaching.

Additional Information

  • The answers to the questions require the maps of the sites to be printed and the graphical solutions required to be superimposed either directly onto the maps or onto tracing paper overlays; these then provide the paper basis for a hard-copy file of work demonstrating the competences of the user.
  • The hard-copy file of work can usefully be augmented by print-outs of the Resources provided including the Questions and the Answers, as the latter demonstrate the correctness of the user’s constructions and calculations based on them.
  • Use of the Geo-browser (the inter-active part of the exercises) can also be tabulated by downloading the vertical profiles obtained by using it and the notional cost of that data; a correct answer at low cost will reflect either a good understanding of both the problem and its means of solution, or luck. It is very unlikely that luck will play a significant part of the 4 problems in each of the three Modules.
  • Answers to the Self Assessment Questions should also be printed together with the evidence used to answer the question. 
  • Each Module will probably take 8 hours of effort; the three Modules taken together will probably require 24hours work for most users.  The learning curve is steep but the problems increase in severity both within a Module and between one Module and the next.


To gain the best experience of this course, please use a mobile device such as a laptop, mobile or tablet to view the course contents. You will also need to use a pencil and paper to complete drawings required for the solutions.

This training module does not support screen readers. Please contact 020 7665 2458 for further advice.

GroundModels presents a series of exercises using typical site data to which further data can be added by purchasing virtual boreholes, to answer practical problems about the ground on site.

Also using geological and geotechnical data of the sort encountered in ground engineering projects; maps of geology & topography, air photos & sensed images, borehole logs, pictures from site, all usually of different ages, and the interactive opportunity to drill virtual bore holes.

Three levels of prior knowledge are addressed by the exercises within the Modules.

The Ground Modelling for Developed Professionals assumes the knowledge and experience that might be expected from having completed an MSc degree in Earth Science or Engineering, or their equivalent, relevant to ground engineering.

Other learning levels are: Basic and Advanced.

Basic, Advanced and Developed modules each provide the user with training in the logic, understanding and practice required to deliver validated geological components of a Ground Investigation Report and a Geotechnical Design Report as now required by:

  • BS5930:2015 Code of practice for ground investigations.
  • BS EN 1997-1:2004+A1:2013 Eurocode 7. Geotechnical design. Part 1. General rules.
  • UK National Annex to BS EN 1997-1:2004+A1:2013 Eurocode 7. Geotechnical design. Part 1 General rules.
  • BS EN 1997-2:2007 Eurocode 7. Geotechnical design. Part 2. Ground investigation and testing.
  • UK National Annex to BS EN 1997-2:2007 Eurocode 7. Ground investigation and testing.


Completion of each module is recognised by the award of a certificate confirming the following:

The candidate has completed a course of interactive study that has required:

  • The interpretation of geological maps and other data from GI sufficient to calculate vertical effective stress at site scale;
  • the calculation of changes in effective stress accompanying the lowering of water levels and the hazards to sub-surface excavation created by wells;
  • the volumes of recharge expected over given outcrops and the pathways linking near surface groundwater to groundwater at depth at site scale.


Michael H de Freitas
PhD. DIC. C.Geol, C.WEM.

Emeritus Reader in Engineering Geology at Imperial College London and Distinguished Research Fellow with over 50years’ experience in the practice, consulting and teaching of geology for ground engineering, both in the UK and overseas, with numerous books and papers to his name.

Former Vice-President of the Geological Society of London, Chairman of its Engineering Group and Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology & Hydrogeology, Glossop Lecturer and William Smith medallist of the Geological Society, and Chevalier des Palmes académiques.

Member of revision committees and working parties for NERC, BSI, CIRIA , IAEG and Geological Society.

Andrew W Thompson

A geographer and cartographer since 1980, Andrew Thompson has managed geographic and mapping projects for central government departments, urban redevelopment corporations, and numerous geographic information publishers.

In his work for Groundwork Maps he specialises in project planning, geospatial analysis and geovisualisation. Recent work includes street networks, analysis for infrastructure planning, cartography (his maps have won a British Cartographic Society's Design Award medal) and the production of atlases, and ground modelling training courses.

He is a long-time Fellow of The Royal Geographic Society, and The British Cartographic Society.


Please note that the eLearning licence is valid for 6 months only from date of purchase.

The following skills are attained site scale and far-field scale by successfully completing the Modules.

Those skills that would be acquired in the Introduction to Ground Modelling and Ground Modelling for Professionals will be needed and used in this eLearning which, in addition, will assist the user to acquire further skills including the following:

  • Calculation of vertical effective stress and the influence of its variables across a site.
  • Calculation of changes in water pressure with change in ground water levels.
  • Calculation of ground water recharge over a catchment of different lithologies and presumed permeabilities.
  • Assessment of sub-surface pathways for the movement of water and gas.
  • Risks to subsurface work created by hydraulic pathways and the steps to be taken to reduce such risks.


Your Certificate for Completing the Course of Study will display the mark you achieved completing these self-assessment tests.

In order to do well it is advised that you check your ability with the following competences before starting a test. You can do that by reading the notes below.

If you are unsure of some competence then return to the CPD work if needed – there’s no hurry; this is personal study. The test questions are extensions of the exercises you have completed so the more you study the site in question and its geology the better prepared you will be to cope with the questions asked.

Test for Developed level

The questions will expect you to be able to:

  • Read a simple geological map
  • Interpret a simple geological map and stratigraphic succession
  • Draw vertical cross sections to display geology
  • Create a three-point solution to determine dip and strike from BH locations you have chosen.
  • Integrate subsurface data with data from geological maps to provide the basis for a conceptual model of the ground on site.
  • Integrate morphological features into the conceptual model.
  • Assess the thinning of deposits caused by erosion during sedimentation.
  • Calculate volumes of ground between geological boundaries.
  • Define the slope of a water table from readings of water level.
  • Appreciate the displacement produced by vertical movement on faults.
  • Assess the displacement across faults.
  • Calculating groundwater pressures.
  • Calculate vertical effective stress.

Ground models are inter-disciplinary tools for ground engineering. The exercises therefore cater for:

  • Civil Engineers (including geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineers and hydrogeologists) who need to understand how such models are made and thus the sensible limits to their use.
  • Geoscientists and geologists who need to be able to justify and verify for the purposes of design, construction and risk, the model they have proposed and to present their model in terms that are useable for geotechnical, geoenvironmental and hydrogeological practice.

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