Consumer Guide to Geological and Geophysical Services Publications for Consumers

WHAT ARE GEOLOGISTS AND GEOPHYSICISTS?

Geologists and Geophysicists study the Earth to help build houses, schools and hospitals in safe locations, find and develop oil and gas fields and industrial mineral/precious metal mines and increase our supplies of fresh groundwater. They complete environmental site assessments and site characterization reports. Their training includes all of the physical-based sciences. Geologists use a variety of techniques to determine the location, composition and orientation of earth materials. Geophysicists measure various physical properties, such as electricity, magnetism, and gravity, and physical phenomenon such as earthquakes. They use these measurements to make interpretations about a site.

WHAT DO GEOLOGISTS DO?

Geologists usually specialize in such fields as engineering geology, environmental geology and hydrogeology, as well as locating and developing oil, gas and mineral deposits. Geologists conduct surface and underground investigations of the earth materials, history and structure of sites and provide interpretations of what they see. Consumers frequently require the services of specialty geologists who are further tested and certified by the State in that specialty. CERTIFIED ENGINEERING GEOLOGISTS and CERTIFIED HYDROGEOLOGISTS are the two current licensed specialties. A description of their services follows.

WHAT DO GEOPHYSICISTS DO?

Geophysicists use instruments to sense and measure sound, electricity, magnetism, gravity, radio waves as well as radar to explore beneath the ground surface. Their techniques may commonly be used to bridge the gap between surface mapping and borings or trenches. Geophysics is often used to determine rock and soil properties, search for groundwater, oil, gas, and minerals, map earthquake faults and assess strong ground motion characteristics and delineate buried hazardous waste. Geophysical studies frequently provide important information for home foundation seismic design, clean up of subsurface contamination and general mineral, oil and gas geologic evaluations.

WHAT DO CERTIFIED ENGINEERING GEOLOGISTS DO?

Certified Engineering Geologists apply geologic principles to the safe development and grading of land, building of structures, search for groundwater resources, cleanup of underground contamination and repairing of geologic hazards. They investigate geologic constraints such as landslides, ground subsidence, earthquake faults and erosion and have special training in geology for working on civil engineering problems. Certified Engineering Geologists evaluate the underground conditions of properties in a variety of ways to aid in finding out the engineering and environmental aspects of a project or site. They make evaluations for insurance companies following earthquakes and floods. They are also familiar with regulations pertaining to land use and repair that require permits from various governmental agencies.

WHAT DO CERTIFIED HYDROGEOLOGISTS DO?

Certified Hydrogeologists apply geologic principles to the search for and cleanup of subsurface contamination and the discovery and development of groundwater resources. They complete Phase I, II and III environmental investigations. Certified Hydrogeologists evaluate the underground conditions at sites in a variety of ways to find out the environmental aspects of a project.

HOW DO YOU FIND AND HIRE A QUALIFIED, LICENSED PROFESSIONAL GEOLOGIST OR GEOPHYSICIST?

To find a qualified professional: 1) check the Yellow Pages, 2) check professional lists maintained by local governmental agencies such as the Regional Water Quality Control Board, 3) call professional associations, 4) ask friends for names of persons they may have used and/or 5) check the Board Web site Directory of Licensees.

When hiring: 1) ask the professional for his/her state license number and contact the Board or its Web site for licensee's current status, 2) understand the terms of employment, 3) have a written contract that specifies the terms, limitations and scope of work expected as well as the time limit, 4) ask for itemization of additional charges for drilling, laboratory testing and trenching, 5) if the professional asks for a retainer, know its purpose and whether it will apply to the bill or be charged separately and 6) seek references from past clients.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS, LAND SURVEYORS, AND GEOLOGISTS?
  • To protect the health, safety and welfare of the public by testing and licensing geologists and geophysicists.
  • To deter negligent, incompetent or fraudulent practices through regulation and disciplinary action.
  • To provide the public with information concerning disciplinary actions against geologists or geophysicists it may hire.
IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT ABOUT THE SERVICES PROVIDED BY YOUR GEOLOGIST OR GEOPHYSICIST

If you have a complaint or wish further information on the Board's authority or license requirements, contact the Board at :

Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95833-2944
Toll Free Number: 1-866-780-5370 (no charge to the calling party)
Phone Number: (916) 263-2222
FAX Number: (916) 263-2899
Email: BPELS.Enforcement_Information@dca.ca.gov
Complaint Form