2001 Burwell Award – GSA

Colorado Geological Survey Receives 2001 Edward Burwell Jr. Award!!!

Dave Noe receiving Edward Burwell Jr. Award in 2001

Colorado Geological Survey Special Publication 43, A Guide to Swelling Soils for Colorado Homebuyers and Homeowners, has received the 2001 Edward B. Burwell, Jr. Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA), Engineering Geology Division.

This prestigious award is made to the authors of a published paper of distinction that advances the principles or practices of Engineering Geology. The award is named in honor of Edward B. Burwell, Jr., the first chief geologist of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

David C. Noe accepted the award on behalf of all authors (Dave Noe, Williams P. (Pat) Rogers, and Candace Jochim) during the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America’s Engineering Geology Division held in Boston, Massachusetts in early November, 2001.

Vicki Cowart, State Geologist and Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) Director, is very proud of the publication. “The book has profoundly and positively affected the standard of practice for geologists and engineers in the home building industry of Colorado and also has a lasting effect for the general public,” she said. “With this informative and easy to understand book, all of the key players in the residential development and building industry can work from the same information. More importantly, citizens throughout Colorado are using it to make informed decisions about swelling soils. “Swelling Soils” is truly the owner’s manual on how to successfully live with Colorado’s complex geology.”

“We’ve long known that the folks at Colorado Geological Survey are doing world-class work,” said Greg Walcher, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Now the rest of the world knows, too.”

A Guide to Swelling Soils” outlines issues associated with building and living on the swelling soils (also known as expansive soils or bentonite) that occur throughout the state, but are especially prevalent along the Front Range near Denver. Explaining the need for the book, Noe said that despite the amount of damage caused by swelling soils and the difficulties associated with development on this type of land, many citizens and new residents don’t know the problem exists, let alone how to deal with it.

CGS has long been in the forefront of the effort to raise public awareness of this pervasive hazard. The agency has offered conferences and field trips to help educate the public and local officials, and has explored techniques to mitigate problems caused by swelling soils. In 1984, CGS helped the Colorado Legislature draft a statute requiring disclosure of swelling soil hazards to buyers of new homes. As a result of this law, potential homebuyers must receive a document describing swelling soils and potential problems, an explanation of appropriate construction methods and suggestions for care and maintenance of affected home sites prior to closing on their property.

CGS had helped develop various publications designed to meet disclosure requirements of the new legislation, but in 1995, the decision was made to compile all the information into one publication. “The goal was to create a document that conveyed information to people ready to close on a new house,” Noe said. “Assuming that most buyers actually purchase the house, the book also needed to serve as a longer-term reference for landscaping, water control, and damage awareness and prevention.”

Copies of A Guide to Swelling Soils for Colorado Homebuyers and Homeowners (Special Publication 43) are available from the CGS bookstore.