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Geological Engineering – A Young Perspective

 Written by: Thomas De Boer

At the University of Waterloo, I study geological engineering and we often cover the topic of subsurface geology. If you look at any map around the classroom, one word will stand out, till.The typical soils in southern Ontario are a mix of sand, gravel, silt, clay, and boulders left behind by 3km thick glaciers that once covered the region. From my time on site so far with EBS, I can say that the soil in southern Ontario can be particularly difficult in this respect.

This begs the question, what have I learned from having to deal with these poor subsurface conditions?

I am often required to determine if our helical piles are reaching the correct torque, or if they’ve caught on a boulder or splinter of bedrock. Looking at a borehole log in the comfort of a lab is a much different procedure than on a site when a pile refuses to descend. My general knowledge of the site can only get me so far in this regard.

Luckily, the EBS team has much experience with respect to these issues and has been great at helping me get my bearings. I have gained a better understanding of Ontario’s geology and from this, I can apply many of the skills that have been only on paper until now.


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