Weak rocks have long been utilized by man in his quest for survival; his development of new ideas and frontiers; and his unyielding goal to enhance his standard of living.
History reveals numerous occasions upon which man has exploited available earth materials for his benefit. Many of these feats were significant because, to the best of our knowledge, the techniques of subsurface exploration, subsurface mapping, materials evaluation, and, for that matter, the professions of geology and foundation engineering --geotechnique--were either non-existant or embryonic at best. None the less, major contributions in the field of geotechnique have been made without the benefit of the investigative techniques currently considered to be commonplace.
Perhaps one of the more dramatic Citations would involve the Island Of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea. The Knights of the Order of st. John were displaced from the Island of Rhodes in the early 16th Century. Accordingly, they dispatched a team Of Commissioners to investigate the desirability of several locations for possible re-settlement of the Order. These Commissioners ultimately recommended-Malta, largely due to the availability of an excellent building stone, a Miocene limestone which was noted to be easyto excavate, yet possessed a casehardening characteristic when exposed to atmospheric conditions, thus providing an end product which was durable and desirable.
The ultimate wisdom of this recommendation by the Commissioners is exhibited by the survival of the Island of Malta during World War II. Despite numerous bombing attacks, the people survived and did not capitulate. The caves within the Miocene limestone strata provided natural fortress protection. Eventually, the Island received, as an Island" both the George Cross from the King of England and a special citation from the President of the united States for heroism.
During the era of the Roman Empire, limestone for building and gypsum for plaster were located and exploited from beneath the city of Paris. AS a result of subsequent collapse 'and cave-ins, the practice was terminated by the Emperor Napoleon, a figure not noted for his prowess in either geology or engineering.
More recently, modern cities, such as Kansas city, on the border of the States of Kansas and Missouri, U. S. A., have utilized a multidiscipline geotechnical approach in regulating and utilizing underground mine. space for secondary space recovery in both commercial and industrial development of the region. Such feats are well documented and set forth a challenge to current and future practitioners. This challenge can be met only with the full cooperation and open exchange of ideas and data developed by the various disciplines involved in planning, development and utilization of the natural resources of the earth, including underground space.
For years, man has pooled his resources, shared ideas with colleagues and embarked upon numerous missions into outer space. These efforts, when viewed in perspective, tend to indicate that the next great frontier to be opened by the efforts of mankind are extra-terrestrial.