Soil Testing Companies Background on soil testing companies



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In 2010 the firm was restructured again, after Osborne and Bergenske moved to Redding. Current officers and senior principals include: President and CEO Christopher J. Watt, CEG, CHG (BS Geol ‘1995 HSU) joined the firm in 1997; Frank Bickner, PG; Nathan Toews, PE, Bryan E. Dussell, CEG, David Nicoletti, PE, Erich Rauber, GE (manages Santa Rosa office), and materials testing and lab manager Virgil Garner. The firm maintains three offices, in Eureka, Ukiah, and Santa Rosa. They perform Phase I/II ESAs, fault hazard and foundation evaluations, and slope stability assessments.



Geohydrologic Consultants (1965-unkn)

Geohydrology Consultants was a small consulting firm founded by John H. Scheufler (BS Geol ’52; MS ’54 Wayne State; PhD ’72 Colorado) in 1965 and based in Saratoga, while Scheufler was working for Standard Oil Co. of California. A separate firm of the same name was later founded in 2001 by Richard A. Vogl, CHG, CEG, and is based in southern California.



Judd Hull & Associates (1974-82)

In the late 1960s-early ‘70s Judd R. Hull, PE worked as one of Raymond International’s SF Bay Area representatives, under L. F. Cavin. In 1974 he started his own firm based in Hayward. His first employee was geologist Mike Hansen. It closed shortly after Mr. Hull’s untimely death in March 1982, at age 53. Hull also had a partnership with contractor Robert W. Smith as Hull-Smith Earth Movers, which was based in Pleasanton. They performed geotechnical site preparation work and landslide repairs. Bob Smith continued operating Hull-Smith for some time after Hull’s death.


Rose Geotechnical (1960s) performed several geotechnical reports for BART in the mid-1960s, based out of San Francisco. Nothing further is known about them.
Geotechnical Consultants Inc. (GTC) (1964-present)

Founded in Burbank, Santa Ana, (profiled in Southern California Threadline) and San Francisco in 1964 and known as“GTC.”Today they are a Caltrans/CUCP DBE, California DGS SBE, and San Francisco HRC (GSA/CMD) LBE minority-owned firm, predominately serving public agencies and utilities, etc. The Principal Engineer and President is G. 'Neel' Neelakantan, PhD, GE (BSCE ‘86 IIT Madras; MS ’88 SUNY Buffalo; PhD ’91 Arizona), who joined the firm in 1991. Other senior staff include: James Thurber, CEG, CHG, Deron van Hoff, GE, Joseph Seibold, GE, Nick Ng, GE, Mark R. Petersen, GE, CEG (1989-95), and Dustin Agnew, PE. Vijith Thilakaratne was a project engineer. They still retain a southern California branch office in Orange County (see Southern California threadline). The firm’s San Francisco office is located at 500 Sansome Street and is managed by Dr. Neelakantan.


Geo-Engineering (1965-77)

Founded by Oliver H. Gilbert, Jr., PE (1931-81) (BSCE ’53 MIT) around 1965 and located at 1138 Howard Street in San Francisco (not connected with Geo-Engineering founded by Return F. Moore in 1955 in the Los Angeles area). In the late 1960s the firm’s Vice President was Leonard O. Long, PE (RCE 13465 in 1962). Long then managed Lowry & Associates’ Bay Area office in Alameda, before co-founding Berlogar, Long & Associates in 1973. By 1978 Gilbert was working for Woodward Clyde in Oakland and San Francisco. Gilbert was a native of the Philippines and a graduate of MIT. He lived in Berkeley and died at age 49 in July 1981, while working for Woodward Clyde.


Hawke Engineers (early 1960s-1979)

Firm founded by James P. Hawke, PE (1910-79), registered in 1945 as RCE 6311. The firm was based in San Francisco. Hawke served in the Navy during World War II, then worked many years for the International Engineering Co. in San Francisco (profiled above), mostly on rockfill dams across the USA (publishing several articles in ASCE journals). Although Hawke was principally a civil-structural firm specializing in dam design, they also performed geotechnical work; from real estate disclosures to geotechnical feasibility reports for Parsons-Tudor-Bechtel on the proposed BART system in the 1960s. Some of their consulting work included a report “Post Sylmar earthquake analysis of safety of Devil's Gate Dam,” prepared for Los Angeles County Flood Control District in 1975. Hawke died in April 1979.


Favro Construction and Engineeering (1966-present)

Geotechnical design-construction firm found by San Francisco native Peter L. Favro, PE, GE in December 1966 and based in Oakland, then Castro Valley, and eventually, Moraga. Firm specialized in the design and construction of foundation repairs, drainage problems, retaining walls, and geotechnical reconnaissances of properties for real estate transactctions.


Dunham & Associates (1972-2007)

Founded in July 1972 by David B. Dunham, GE (BSCE 1960; Clarkson College of Technology) and originally based in San Mateo, then Palo Alto, San Carlos, and finally, in Belmont. Dunham had previous worked for the San Francisco District of the Army Corps of Engineers during the 1960s.


Lawrence B. Karp, Consulting Geotechnical Engineer (1973-present); Geoplex (2012-present)

Founded by Larry Karp, GE (BSCE ’63, MS ’75, MEng ‘76, D.Eng.’80 Berkeley), son of Berkeley structural engineer Nathan Karp, SE (BSCE ’35 Caltech), who pioneered the lift slab construction technique in the early 1960s. Larry was unique in that he was cross-trained in architecture, civil, structural, geotechnical, coastal, and construction engineering. He has two master’s degrees and his D.Eng in construction engineering/management from Berkeley, working under Professors Joe Johnson (MS) and Ben C. Gerwick, Jr. (MEng and DEng). He engaged in considerable forensic work and designed a number of unique structural repairs for Bay Area clients and geotechnical firms, including: Dick Meehan, Alan Kropp, Don Hillebrandt, Dave Rogers, and a few others. He was known for the precise detailing and notes on his construction plans, esp for tiebacks and ground anchors, which have been employed a number of high visibility ptrojects, such as the Oakland Bay Bridge replacement, Cal Memorial Stadium Seismic Retrofit, the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit, and the Devil’s Slide repair of 2005-06. He has an unusual penchant for background research, digging up information nobody else could ever seem able to find! He worked out his home at the top of El Toyonal Hill in Orinda.


Earth Mechanics & Site Engineering (1970-85)

Founded by Clarence McDonald, PE and Henry G. Thurm, PE in Orinda around ~1970, and later moved to Lafayette. The firm was subsequently owned by Thurm, after he secured his PE registration in 1974. He was an early advocate and practitioner of ‘trenchless technology,’ using hydraulically-operated “hole-hogs.” Thurm died of natural causes in 1985, and the firm was dissolved.


Zickefoose and Associates (1973-92)

Started by Neil H. Zickefoose, CEG (BS Geol ’56; MS Geotech ‘63 West Virginia) around 1973, based in Richmond, and later, in El Sobrante. Previous to starting his own consultancy, he worked for the USGS in Alaska, Shannon & Wilson in Seattle, D’Appolonia in Pittsburgh, Bechtel and Dames & Moore in San Francisco, and for Gribaldo, Jones & Associates in San Francisco. After closing down his firm, he worked as a hydrogeologist for Exceltech in Fremont, as Chief Hydrogeologist for American Environmental Management, ATEC Environmental Consultants in Sacramento, and, then, as Senior Geologist/Dept Manager for Law Engineering & Environmental, also in Sacramento.


Western Geological Consultants (1975-2005)

Firm started by engineering geologist Harry W. Short, CEG (PhB Geol ’56, North Dakota) around 1975, based out of Concord, after he worked for the California Department of Water Resources. Upon retirement he moved to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, where he continued consulting. The firm advertised itself as having expertise in geological engineering, exploration services, fault trenching, mining and associated services. In April 1970, Harry published an article in the Bulletin of the National Speleological Society describing his ongoing explorations of Moaning Cavern, in the Sierras. For many years he was also active in the Contra Costa Mineral and Gem Society.


PSC Associates Inc., (1976 –present)

Peter S-C. Chan, PE, GE in Mountain View and San Francisco. One of his senior engineers in the 1980s was Dr. Y.D. (David) Wang (PhD UC Berkeley). Gaurang (Gary) R. Parikh, PE was also senior geotechnical engineer for many years, while Dave Buckley, PE, CEG (BA Geol ’75; MS ’77 Purdue) worked for the firm in 1987-89, and Ed Medley, PE, CEG (BS GeoE UBC ’79; PhD GeoE ’93 Berkeley) worked for them between 1989-92. In the 1990s William C. Wood, GE (BSCE ’61 Berkeley) of Dames & Moore joined the firm as Principal Engineer of the San Francisco office.
Geoconsultants, Inc. (1976-present)

Small hydrogeology firm founded by former Santa Clara County Geologist Jeremy C. Wire, CEG, CHG (BA Geol ’58 Pomona; MA ’61 UCLA) based in San Jose. Wire came to the Bay Area from the Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg in 1966 to become the first Santa Clara County Geologist. He then served as chief geologist of Lowney-Kaldveer from 1969-71 and for Terrasearch of San Jose, from 1971-75. In 1976 John K. Hofer, CEG (BA Geol ’71 SJSU) began working for the firm part-time and now serves as the firm’s Vice President and Chief Hydrogeologist. Keil A. Albert, PG (BS Geol ’95 CSU Sonoma) joined the firm in 1994, and currently serves as a senior geologist.


Bay Soils (1977-97)

Founded by Curtis L. “Curt” Messinger, CEG (1928-2004) (BA Geol ’52 Cornell; MS EngG ’58 Massachusetts) and based in Pleasanton for 30+ years. Messinger had previously served in the Marine Corps and after graduation from Cornell, joined the Air Force’s Civil Engineer Support Agency (8 years). He was an early member of AEG (joining in 1961, while working at Lowry AFB in Denver). He left the Air Force in 1966 and lived in Hayward for a few years before moving to Pleasanton, around 1969.


Rogers Johnson & Associates (1977-present)

Engineering geology and hydrogeology firm founded by Rogers E. Johnson, CEG (BA Geol ’69 CSUSF) around 1977, originally based in Santa Cruz, then Watsonville. Johnson completed a significant volume of graduate research on coastal retreat rates in central and northern California at UC Santa Cruz, between 1970-74, but never completed his doctoral dissertation. For many years he and Prof Leonard A. Palmer, RG at Portland State (PhD ‘67 UCLA) were considered the two leading experts on coastal retreat rates in California. Greg Easton, CEG (BS Geol ’99 UCSC) was the firm’s project geologist from 2001-12, before establishing Easton Geology in July 2012. Alan O. Allwardt, PG serves as a project geologist.


Russell C. Greenlaw & Associates; Faast Software

Founded by Russ Greenlaw, PE, ME (MSCE ’69 Berkeley) and located at 3062 East Avenue in Livermore. Russ had previously taught at the University of Pacific in Stockton (early 1970s) and had owned GCN/Hydronet Services of Stockton in the mid to late 1970s. He also worked with/for Lawrence Livermore National Lab, moving to Livermore in the early 1980s. In the 1990s he operated Faast Software out of the same office, in Livermore.


Engeotech (1979-2008)

Founded in 1979 and incorporated in July 1980 by Muhammad Hussain, GE and based in Milpitas from 1990 onward. The firm was dissolved in 2008, and Hussain moved to Merced.


Seidelman Associates (1980-96)

Seidelman Associates was founded by Paul J. Seidelman GE, CEG (1946-2013) (BS Geol ’73; MS ’75 SJSU) in 1980 and based in Lafayette, and later in Pleasant Hill. Seidelman gained experience dealing with landslide mitigation working with the US Forest Service from 1975-80, becoming regional supervising geologist for California. Jeff Borum, CEG (BS Geol ’79 UCSC; MS ’81 SJSU) and Mitch Wolfe, CEG (profiled in Cal Engineering & Geology) were senior associates in the 1980s, and Bob Anderson was a staff geologist. Borum and Wolfe both have MS degrees from San Jose State and had previously worked for the US Forest Service in northern California. Seidelman grew up in San Mateo, attended San Mateo College, served in the Navy at Treasure Island during the Vietnam War, then completed his studies at San Jose State in engineering geology. After closing down his firm in the mid-1990s, he moved to Green Valley (1994), and later, back to the Orinda area. He continued doing consulting and expert witness work, while maintaining a general engineering contracting firm, Foundations and Earth Retaining Systems. Seidelman died in January 2013.


Allstate Geotechnical Services (1983-91); AGS, Inc. (1991-present)

AGS was founded in Nov 1983 as Allstate Geotechnical Services by Robert T. “Bob” Wong, GE (PhD GeotE ’71 Berkeley) as a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE). The firm was renamed AGI, Inc. in 1991 and has been co-certified as a San Francisco Local Business Enterprise (LBE). They provide services in geotechnical, environmental, civil, structural, and construction engineering and inspection, and laboratory testing. The firm is based in San Francisco with branch offices, providing a range of services to public agencies and private clients. Dennis Wong, PE (BSCE Brown; MS Stanford) succeeded his father as the firm’s president for five years, then started his own firm AETYPIC. The firm’s presidency was then assumed by Bahram Khamenehpour, GE (PhD GeotE’83 Berkeley). Senior staff include Kamran Ghrassi, GE (PhD GeotE Illinois), Keyvan Fotoohi, PhD, GE, James Tsao, SE, Kenneth J. Litle, PE, and Sami Malaeb, PE.
Questa Engineering Corp. (1983-present)

Geoenvironmental firm founded in 1983 by Norman H. Hantzsche, PE (BSCE ’71 Stanford; MS ’73 UC Davis) in Point Richmond. Prior to forming Questa in 1983, he served with RAMLIT associates in Berkeley and on the staffs of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the State Water Resources Control Board. Jeffrey H. Peters, REA hydrologist/soil scientist (MS Soil Sci ’73 UC Davis), Sydney A. Temple, PE (BS Geol ’86 UCSC) senior hydrologist, Willard N. Hopkins, CEG senior engineering geologist, Gary E. Underdahl, GE associate geotechnical engineer, Carl H. Nelson, PE water resources engineer, and Paul S. Popisil, RG, project geologist.


Brunsing Associates Consulting Engineers/BACE Geotechnical (1985-92); Brunsing Associates, Inc. (1992 – present)

Founded in 1985 by Dr. Thomas P. Brunsing, PE (BSCE ’74, MS ’76, PhD ’80 Berkeley) in Marin County. Main office later moved to Santa Rosa, with branches elsewhere in the North Coast region. The firms were consolidated in October 1992 as Brunsing Associates, Inc., or BAI. They specialize in geoenvironmental work, as well as general geotechnical consultations. Senior staff has included Erik E. Olsborg, CEG, J. Erich Rauber, PE, Gary F. Sitton, GE, Keith Colorado, GE, David E. Conley, PG, William H. H. Coset, and Patrick Lamb.


Vonder Haar Hydrogeology Associates (1986-present)

Founded by Stephen Vonder Haar, PhD CHG (BS Geol ’71 Illinois; PhD ‘76 USC) in 1986, after he worked for Pacific Energy Consultants and the Earth Sciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His firm specializes in forensic consultations in hydrogeology and is based in Berkeley.


Weber, Hayes and Associates (1988-96); Gerry E. Weber Geologic Consultant (1996-2009)

After working for the USGS (1971-73), Cordilleran Exploration (1981-84), and Rogers Johnson (1984-87), Gerry Weber, CEG (BA Geol ’62 UC Riverside; MS ’68 Texas-Austin; PhD ’80 UC Santa Cruz) and Joseph P. Hayes, CEG, CHG (from Rogers Johnson and EMCON) founded Weber-Hayes in January 1988, based in Watsonville. The firm specialized in engineering geology and hydrogeology consultations in the Monterey-Santa Cruz area. Jeff M. Nolan, CEG was one of their senior geologists in the 1990s. Craig Drizin, PE is senior engineer and Patrick Hoban senior geologist with the firm, since 1991.

Weber also served as an adjunct professor of geology at UC Santa Cruz, where he taught field geology, between 1979-2001. Weber also performed funded research work on the age and evolution of elevated marine terraces in coastal California, and on seismically-induced landslides in the Santa Cruz Mtns., following the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. Weber provided expert witness services for the City of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, and Monterey County. He began practicing in the Santa Cruz-Monterey area in 1973 and slowed down considerably after 2003, though still active as a peer reviewer and consultant to other firms (e.g. Cotton-Shires and William Lettis & Associates) and governmental agencies.
John A. Becker & Associates (1990-2007)

Founded by John de Becker, GE (1914-2007) (BSE ’37 Univ Vienna) in 1990. After graduation from the University of Vienna he served as an officer in the Austrian Army. Fearing induction into the Nazi Wehrmacht on the eve of World War II, he sought asylum in England in 1939, where he met his wife and married in 1943. In the mid-1950s they immigrated to Canada and then to Washington, DC, before settling in Mill Valley in 1957. Becker took a position with Abbot A. Hanks Laboratories in San Francisco, where he learned about soil mechanics and soil testing working with Leonard O. Long. He became registered PE in 1959 and a GE in 1987. In 1969 he joined the US Navy’s Western Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (WESTDIV-NAVFAC) in San Bruno, as a civilian engineer working under Joseph D. Boitano, Head of the Soil Mechanics Branch. Becker and his family moved to San Francisco that same year. He did piecework consulting from his home, and upon retirement from the Navy in 1990 he started John A. Becker & Associates, working out of San Francisco.


Robert Y. Chew Geotechnical (1990-present)

Founded by Robert Y.C. Chew, GE with offices in San Francisco and Hayward. Operating as an MBE and SBE firm since its establishment in August 1990. They often serve as MBE, and/or SFO LBE or SBE subcontractors, with full-service firms peforming infrastructure design work for public agencies, such as the EBMUD, San Francisco DPW and PUC, etc. From 1994-2001 Mark McKee, GE (BSGE 1988 Arizona) was a project engineer with the firm. The firm is a member of the Bay Area Earthquake Alliance.


Olivia Chen Consultants (1991-2006)

A WBE geotechnical firm started by Olivia Chen, PE (MS EnvEng ‘66 Stanford) in November 1991, after working for Metcalf & Eddy (1966-89). Hers was the first woman-owned geotechnical consulting firm (WBE) in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company was based in downtown San Francisco until purchased by AECOM Water, in November 2006. Chen became a Senior VP at AECOM Water, then departed in late 2009 to start her own nonprofit firm.


Fowler & Associates (1990s-2000s)

Founded by Donald R. Fowler, CEG in San Francisco, years unknown. Offered geological and geotechnical engineering services in 1990s thru middle 2000s, and active in AEG. Fowler retired and moved to Tucson by 2010.


Parikh Consultants, Inc. (1994-present)

After working for PSC Associates, GaurangGary’ R. Parikh, GE (MSCE ’71 Berkeley) started Parikh Consultants, Inc. in Milpitas in the early 1990s and took Y. David Wang, PhD, PE (PhD Civ Eng Berkeley) with him as his Vice President.


Calgeotech Engineering Consultants (2010-present)

Founded in July 2010 by Manny Saleminik, GE (MSCE 1994 SJSU) and Apostolos Kozompolis, GE (BSCE 1995 Tech Univ Athens; MEng 1998 Berkeley) and based in San Ramon. Before founding the firm, Saleminik worked for Parsons Brinkerhoff, while Kozompolis previously worked for Engeo. They are an MBE firm and maintain a building contractor’s license to perform foundation construction and repairs. In 2013 Alex Wong, PE (BSCE ’84; MS ’86 Utah State) joined the firm as a project engineer.


Pioneer Consulting Engineering Geologists (1930s-80s)
The Marliaves - consulting engineering geologists (1938 - 90)

Chester Marliave and his two sons, Elmer Marliave and Burton Marliave, were engineering geologists who specialized in water-related structures including dam sites, aqueducts, pumping plants, and tunnels. One or more of the three Marliaves worked on engineering geology studies directed to practically every major water development project in California during the period from the mid-1920s through the late 1970s – projects which enabled the rapid economic growth of the state and which changed the appearance of the landscape over large areas. Much of their work was done for the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland, but other agencies as well, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Chester Marliave, PE, CPG (1885 – 1958) was born in May 1885 in San Francisco. He studied mining engineering and geology at Berkeley, graduating in 1907. After working at the Empire Mine in Grass Valley, he turned his attention to water resources projects, where he spent the remainder of his career. As both a geologist and a registered civil engineer, he focused much of his attention on hydrology studies, which were the lifeblood of California agriculture and development. These activities included the siting and design of dam foundations and appurtenant structures, tunnels, and assessing suitable aggregates, construction materials, etc. At various times he worked on the Hetch Hetchy distribution system of the Spring Valley Water Co. of San Francisco (1916-19), and on assessing the groundwater resources of the Ygnacio Valley near Walnut Creek (1919-20). He then worked for the California Division of Water Resources, followed by the East Bay Water Co. (1923-25), returning to the Division of Water Resources as their new Chief Geologist, in which he continued until his retirement from State service in late 1938.

Following the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam in March 1928, the State of California enacted the most rigorous program of dam safety in the world. Chester was assigned as to work with civil engineer George Hawley to make a preliminary assessment of the potential instability of all the dams in the state. These investigations extended from 1929-35.



He established a consultancy based in Berkeley, worked chiefly water resources projects in California and other western states. During the Second World War he served as a consultant to the Navy Seabees and the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1952 he began working on international projects, as far away as Brazil. He continued working shortly before his death at age 72 on March 22, 1958.

Elmer C. Marliave, CPG (1910 – 1967) received his academic training at Berkeley (BA Geol ’32) and took a position with the State Water Resources Board in Sacramento, becoming the Chief Geologist in 1939 after his father had retired the previous year. He spent three years as an Army artillery officer in Panama during the Second World War before returning to Sacramento. The WRB became the Department of Water Resources in 1952 and Elmer retired in 1956. He was also a member of the committee of ten which founded the California Association of Engineering Geologists in 1957, which became AEG in January 1963. He maintained an active consultancy based out of Sacramento up until his death, on Sept. 24, 1967.
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