02/18/2016 - UK: Tribute to eminent engineering geologist, Dr A Brian Hawkins, 1934-2016

Dr Brian Hawkins, former Reader in Engineering Geology, died in January. His colleague Dr David Nash offers a remembrance.

Numerous civil engineers and geologists throughout the world will recall Dr Brian Hawkins, an eminent engineering geologist and former member of the University of Bristol who has passed away at the age of 81. Generations of Bristol students were intrigued and inspired by Brian’s enthusiastic lectures - which also left many somewhat in awe. As one student said “once met never forgotten, especially if you sat near the front”.

Appointed Reader in Engineering Geology in 1979, Brian was passionate about teaching and was particularly interested in the impact of Engineering Geology on construction. He supervised over 35 PhD students, many of whom have themselves made a real impact in the field of Engineering Geology. Author of more than 70 publications, his particular research interests included the Quaternary geology of the Bristol region, slope stability problems in soils and rocks, and the influence of ground chemistry on construction.

For many years he was editor of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology. Subsequently he was editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the International Association for Engineering Geology (IAEG), and in 2014 he was awarded the first Marcel Arnould Medal by the IAEG for his significant contribution to the engineering geology profession and outstanding services to the Association.

Brian was both a chartered Geologist and a chartered Engineer, and was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He acted as a consultant on numerous roads, tunnels and underground structures advising Contractors, Consultants, Local Authorities and Utilities both in the UK and abroad, adopting a very hands-on approach to analysing and resolving problems in the field. More recently he also acted as expert witness at numerous mediations, arbitrations and court proceedings relating to the impact of geology and ground chemistry on construction.

Brian Hawkins was a unique and indefatigable character who was working away from Bristol at the time of his death having lectured to students only a few days earlier. He will be greatly missed by his family, colleagues, past and present students, but will live on in the memories of all who met him.

(Bristol University)