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Geomechanical engineers apply the principles of engineering and geology to the study of geological materials including soil, ground water, and rock foundations. The field is divided into two main areas: soil mechanics and rock mechanics. Geomechanical engineers with a focus on the former study the behaviour of soils and their responses to mechanical and structural activities like mining, resource extraction, and the laying of foundations for infrastructure. Geomechanical engineers dealing with the latter study the mechanical behaviour of rocks and rock masses, and their responses to the forces in their physical environment.
The principles of geomechanics are essential to a wide range of industries. Geomechanical engineers are often employed by mining companies to design rock structures generated by mining and drilling (both onshore and offshore); and by companies in the civil sector to guide the construction of tunnels, embankments, road cuts, and other structures built in/of rock or soil.
Entry level positions typically require an undergraduate degree in civil (geotechnical) engineering, and are commonly offered by mining or construction companies as graduate programs leading to higher-level positions. Graduates seeking senior positions in management or research may benefit from post-graduate Masters or PhD studies in civil, geotechnical, or geomechanical engineering.
For more information, see the learned association for geomechanics in Australia, the Australian Geomechanics Society.