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Spotlight: Lucy Spindler, Graduate Engineering Geologist at Fairhurst

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I can quote all episodes of Friends.

Tell us about your career journey so far

After graduating in 2018 with a BSc. Geology degree I immediately started at Fairhurst in Aberdeen as a Graduate Engineering Geologist. Soon into my role I was offered a site placement in the highlands as a Supervising Engineering Geologist for the A9 Dualling Project Ground Investigation (Central Section) which lasted 5 months. Some examples of other projects I have worked on so far are the St Helena Rockfall Mitigation Strategy, Westfield Open Cast Coal Mine Remediation, New Aberdeen Football Stadium and Countesswells Masterplan Development.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Favourite subject in school was Art and Design as I enjoyed explaining ideas and concepts through art as opposed to writing. This was incredibly useful for a geology degree which involves a lot of visual interpretations such as cross sections, sketches and diagrams.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

Subjects at school that are useful are Art and Design, Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Geology (if available at your school, I applied to an S6@Uni course in Geology at University of Aberdeen as Geology was not taught in school).

Useful qualifications would be a university or college degree in geology, earth science or engineering geology.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The diverse range of projects I can work on and being able to travel around Scotland to various sites.

What is a normal day in your role like?

The day would normally include a visit to one of our local sites to check on progress or provide advice on any changes. I would scope and appraise sites for ground investigations and prepare contract documents and communicate with the on-site contractors/drillers/site engineers for field descriptions of the soils from boreholes and trial pits. More specifically work can include rockfall modelling, desk studies, soil and rock logging and structural mapping and interpretative reports.

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

An activity I would suggest to do that illustrates the sort of data we collect about a site for a client, is to look at the geology that underlies an area of your choosing. Specifically an area that does not have any buildings on it, such as a field near your school or house.

· Zoom into your area of interest

· Use the box in the top left corner that states ‘Surface Geology’ and you can either turn on ‘Superficial Only’ (which will show whether the area is underlain by sands, gravels, cobbles or clays) or ‘Bedrock Only’ which will show the type of rock that underlies the superficial soils (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic)

· Clicking on the area of interest will create a pop up box that has a description of the geology that underlies the site and provide further details.

· The page also displays a ‘Borehole Scans’ tab in the top left corner which is only visible at a small scale (therefore it won’t display at larger scale).

· This overlays all publicly available data of boreholes (a borehole is a hole approximately 6 inches wide, depending on the type of rig, drilled in the area of interest to establish the composition of soils at deeper depths).

· By clicking on the location of the borehole a pop up appears which has a link to the records obtained from that borehole.

This publicly available data is incredibly useful in understanding the type of material that is anticipated on site. If the site is underlain by a clay, this is not very practical as sometimes it is too soft to build on. Or if the soils have a high cobble and boulder content, this can prove difficult to dig out and incurs costs to the client.


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