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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation

The field of geoengineering is at a crossroads where the path to high-tech solutions meets the path to expanding applications of geotechnology. In this report, the term “geoengineering” includes all types of engineering that deal with Earth materials, such as geotechnical engineering, geological engineering, hydrological engineering, and Earth-related parts of petroleum engineering and mining engineering. The rapid expansion of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology begs the question of how these new approaches might come to play in developing better solutions for geotechnological problems.

This report presents a vision for the future of geotechnology aimed at National Science Foundation (NSF) program managers, the geological and geotechnical engineering community as a whole, and other interested parties, including Congress, federal and state agencies, industry, academia, and other stakeholders in geoengineering research. Some of the ideas may be close to reality whereas others may turn out to be elusive, but they all present possibilities to strive for and potential goals for the future. Geoengineers are poised to expand their roles and lead in finding solutions for modern Earth systems problems, such as global change, emissions-free energy supply, global water supply, and urban systems.

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