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photo: highscaling crew repairing concrete on face of Glen Canyon Dam

Leonardo Da Vinci applied mathematics, chemistry, and physics to solve real problems. He used the principles of engineering and science in his quest for a better world for himself and the rest of humanity. The Bureau of Reclamation has been applying engineering and scientific principles to help the nation meets its water resource needs since 1902.

In addition to being a world-premier engineering organization, Reclamation's responsibilities and expertise now encompass a wide range of water resource management efforts, including municipal and industrial water supplies, flood control, outdoor recreation, enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat, and research.

photo: Drill crew/equipment obtain bedrock foundation samples at East Canyon Dam

Reclamation recognized during its early years the vital part that geology had to play in the development of its public works projects. Geology continues to play an ever-increasing role in project evaluation and development as people become more aware of the physical environment around them.

Since the 1940's, Reclamation has maintained full time, in-house geology capability. Presently, there are 80 professional geologists and geophysicists located in offices throughout the 17 western states. Combined, Reclamation geologists and geophysicists have over 1500 years of specialized experience in projects ranging in size from wildlife watering holes to major dams. In addition, Reclamation maintains in-house drilling capability including the latest equipment, to meet the demanding requirements of monitoring, groundwater, soil, and rock sampling, and engineering testing.

What We Do

 Formulate and perform geotechnical/geological investigations for site characterization and data collection, evaluation, and portrayal of geological conditions including:
  • Rock and soil classification
  • Subsurface explorations
  • Develop geological/geotechnical design and construction considerations
  • Present data and interpretations for planning, design, specifications, and reports
  • Geologic modeling (computer analyses and 3-D models)
  • Land/reservoir rim stability investigations and considerations
  • cut slope design/excavation and support requirements
  • Excavation characteristics including blasting, grouting, and water control measures
  • Seepage and water basin studies
  • Geological aspects of dam safety evaluation and investigations
photo: geophysicist doing ground-penetration radar survey at Hyrum Dam
 Evaluate and analyze geological data or plan and direct other specialists to perform such studies
 Conduct studies for seismicity and ground motions; install, maintain, and monitor seismic and microseismic networks; perform computerized velocity modeling; analyze tectonic regimes and determine earthquake focal mechanisms
 Design, perform, and provide oversight and review for in-house and contract, surface, and borehole geophysical surveys to determine subsurface conditions, seepage characteristics, foundation properties and modulus estimates, cavity prediction, and water basin stratigraphy
 Provide technical assistance for review of documents, reports, and contracts

Drilling Capability

Drill crews and drilling equipment are maintained within each Reclamation region and are available for travel throughout the United States. The crews have accumulated a vast amount of drilling and sampling experience in virtually every type of geologic environment. Most of our personnel have over 20 years of varied experience working throughout the country performing testing and sampling of soil and rock as well as installing horizontal drains, monitoring and water supply wells, and structural behavior instrumentation. Equipment capability includes angle and vertical coring, hollow stem auguring, down hole hammers, ODEX systems to 12 feet, top head rotary mud/air, casing hammers, barge drilling, concrete drilling, and horizontal drain hole boring.

For More Information

Technical assistance to state and other federal agencies can be requested by phone. Please contact the office nearest you (see below). A time and cost estimate will be furnished upon request based on written instructions/specifications or the information provided by phone. Actual funding, however, must be on a cost-reimbursible basis. User funds must be committed prior to commencement of work, usually through interagency or cooperative agreement.


Last updated: June 1, 2009