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Standards and Quality in Ground Investigations

  • University of Strathclyde 75 Montrose Street Glasgow, Scotland, G1 1XJ United Kingdom (map)

The Glossop Lecture is the most prestigious lecture of the Engineering Group of the Geological Society, and is given annually by an invited eminent engineering geologist. The 17th Glossop Award medal was presented to David Norbury and his lecture was first given at the Royal Institution in London in Nov 2016.


Synopsis: Practitioners all aspire to obtain and deliver good quality investigations of the ground and also all understand that these investigations are to be carried out in accordance with current standards of best practice. However, there are many definitions of ‘standards’ and ‘quality’ which has implications in practice.

Investigators are required to work to published Standards, various forms of specification and to professional practice requirements. A structure for what has to be followed will be proposed with the intention of guiding the investigator who is following these requirements to achieving an efficient and safe result from his geotechnical investigation and design. There is an ongoing argument as to whether the achievement of quality is constrained or enhanced by following the Standards, and whether standards are necessary to achieve the required quality level. The author will try to draw all these strands together and navigate a route to achieving a best practice outcome, drawing on some historic case histories from the author’s experience and discuss the question of what effect following the standards has on innovation in design.


Professor David Norbury
Director, David Norbury Ltd, & Professor at Sussex University
David Norbury is director of David Norbury Ltd and Professor at Sussex University.  Following a degree in geology from Bristol and an MSc in Engineering Geology from Imperial College, David worked for over 30 years for Soil Mechanics Limited on projects across the world.  Since setting up his own practice 10 years ago, David has written his seminal book on Soil and Rock Description in Engineering Practice.  Amongst David’s many other achievements he has been lead author and chairman of the revision of BS5930 ‘Code of Practice for Ground investigations’.

Venue: Room 5.09a, James Weir Building, Level 5, 75 Montrose Street, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XJ