Monday, May 23, 2016

Structual Condition Assessment Handbook and Forensic Science

It occurred to me recently that many people are confused about what a "Forensic Geologist" is and why I call myself that.  For 25 years prior to being the television host of America Unearthed I ran a materials forensic laboratory as a licensed professional geologist (Minnesota License #30024).  In January of 1990, I founded America Petrographic Services, Inc., after working as a concrete petrographer for five years prior to that, and still operate the company as it's President.  As I've explained many times in my lectures, or when asked what I do for a living, my response is, "I perform autopsies of concrete and rock."  This is a pretty accurate way to describe the work I do which is primarily using laboratory analysis and testing to determine the cause of concrete failures and poor performance.  Because of the vast number (several thousand projects) and variety of concrete and rock problems I have investigated over the past 31 years, it has resulted in my being considered one of the world's experts in material forensic science. 

This experience and notoriety in the construction industry is why American Petrographic Services Inc., was assigned to perform all the forensic analysis work on the fire damaged concrete at the Pentagon after 9-11.  It was truly an honor to be involved that work which will likely define my legacy more else I have done or ever might do.

In the late 1990's I was approached by the lead editor for a book project, Robert Ratay, to write the chapter about concrete for a book published in 2005 titled, Structural Condition Assessment Handbook.  Bob had a lot of people he could have asked to write that chapter and it was an honor and a privilege to be selected.  For those interested in learning more about the process of forensic investigation I encourage you to read the chapter I wrote in this book.  Keep in mind the process of investigation into the Kensington Rune Stone, and other mysterious artifacts and sites, is no different than process of investigating problems with concrete, mortar, rock etc.  You can read more about the book at the following link.