Engineering Geoscience and Geohazards denotes a specialised capability which provides services and consulting in this area through a huge information base and considerable expertise in the area of geohazards and disaster management. An adequate assessment of the geological environment is a prerequisite to formulating effective recommendations regarding the suitability of a site for sustainable human settlement and infrastructure development. Any structure or infrastructure interfacing with the geological environment can be constructed economically, perform safely, and can have a non-detrimental impact on other works and human lives only if all geological elements are accurately identified and their properties adequately measured and evaluated.
This requires, inter alia, the capability to identify and describe rock and soil types, rock mass and soil formation characteristics and groundwater conditions, and the recognition and description of the potential for phenomena such as sinkholes, flooding, erosion, slope failures, ground heave and subsidence and collapse. In addition, insufficient geotechnical investigations, faulty interpretation of results or failure to portray results in a clearly understandable manner may contribute to inappropriate designs, delays in construction schedules, costly construction modifications, use of substandard borrow material, environmental damage to the site, post-construction remedial work and even failure of a structure and subsequent litigation. The role of the Engineering Geoscience and Geohazards function is to monitor, assess and conduct targeted research on a wide range of natural hazards in order that policy makers and the public understand the need to enhance preparedness, response and resilience. The function plays an important role in developing models, methods, information and tools to analyse hazard risks and impacts related to infrastructure development, thus contributing towards the Economic Infrastructure, Environmental Sustainability and Resilience and Inclusive Rural Community focus areas of the NDP 2030.
The Geoscience Amendment Act (Act No. 16 of 2010) mandates the Council for Geoscience to, among others, be the custodian and curator of all geotechnical information in the country, as well as being a national mandatory authority in respect of geohazards related to infrastructure development. In other words, the Act empowers the Council for Geoscience to be the custodian of all geotechnical data with the purpose of advising and assisting government, state institutions, parastatals, private organisations and the general public by providing a complete geotechnical risk profile of the country. The mandate aims to ensure safe development on hazardous ground by taking all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure that adequate and sufficient geotechnical investigations are performed prior to any housing and/or infrastructure development.