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"Sphere of Influence" in Geological Engineering

written by: Jayant R Row • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 2/5/2011

The sphere of influence that geography exerts over almost all human activity cannot be understated. The physical geography of a land has a vast influence on the activities in that country, and this is to a large extent also dependent on the geological formations that are part of the environment.

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    600px-Dasht-e Kavir 

    The sphere of influence in geological engineering is the area around a geologically relevant occurrence or happening that in turn determines certain economic, social, or ethnic factors. This is in a way similar to the sphere of influence exerted by a business organization in any area not necessarily restricted by national boundaries. So it is likely that geological conditions in an area could influence human living conditions in vast areas surrounding them.

    Image Source: Wikimedia

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    Geological Occurrences That Are Influential

    Strata near the top of the Bannau Sir Gaer cliffs - - 171038 

    An earthquake is a geologically relevant event that occurs when slippage is caused between geological formations due to the buildup of pressures from magma or other causes. The area that feels the effects of the shock and aftershock is determined by the epicenter of the quake, its depth, and intensity. This in turn is dependent on the formation of the rocks and other geological formations and their capacity to absorb and transmit the stresses that they come under. So such effects may not be felt equally in two places that are equidistant from the epicenter. Tsunamis are a result of such earthquakes under the sea, and again here the effect of a tsunami and the sphere of its influence can depend on other factors like the openness of the sea, and vegetation and land masses in its path which divert the tsunami waves.

    Image Source: Wikimedia

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    Influence of Natural Resources

    Natural resources occur in specific areas and can have a vast sphere of influence on geography. The occurrence of precious metals and ores that are considered economically important in certain regions is influenced by the geological formations in that area. Such formations are not restricted to national boundaries and will follow their own geological rules. However the exploitation of such resources can affect the economy and social life in a region to a very great extent. It can mean complete disruption of agriculture and forestry, which in turn can cause a similar upheaval in social terms and displacement of population.

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    Effects of Mountainous Terrain and Weather

    Geological formations like mountains greatly influence the climate in an area, as such regions will be much colder. This weather has an influence on the ethnic population, their living habits, their modes of dressing, and their means of finding their livelihood. Similarly geological formations also influence the formation of water bodies like lakes and rivers. This in turn can quite often influence transportation, economic activity, and even eating habits.

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    Sphere of Influence of Geology in Civil Engineering

    Geological formations have changed over time and this has led to changes in the earth’s surface and the physical structures that humankind is mainly concerned with. Studies have indicated the influence of such changes on countries and continents, the formation of mountains, oceans and other geological features. It may not be easy to assess the influence of such changes on mankind, as the short time of man’s documented history is very insignificant compared to the long eons of time that have led to geological changes. However as far as civil engineers are concerned, geological formations are important to them in the designs of foundations and bridges, and the location of dams and ports.