Despite Poincaré's statement that scientists of his generation did not study nature because it was useful, most students today are concerned about their careers and about their potential contributions to society.
For the authors of this textbook it is no longer sufficient to focus on understanding the structural history of the earth as an arcane academic exercise. The drama of active geological processes unfold before our eyes and on a human time scale as news of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and tsunamis flash around the world via radio, TV, and the Web.
We are in agreement with the opinion of R. N. Farvolden and J. A. Cherry who wondered if geology departments are preparing their students for the 21st century:
"After many years of observing geology departments, our experience indicates that they have adjusted to the scientific revolution of recent decades, but have largely ignored the technical, economic, and social changes that influence the practice of geology and thereby have ignored the professional lives of their students." (Farvolden and Cherry, 1991).
Structural geologists can make important contributions to society in natural resource recovery (including water, oil, gas, and minerals), in the assessment of natural hazards (including earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions), and in the management of the environment (the long term storage of radioactive materials and the contamination of fractured aquifers by hazardous chemicals).
We integrate aspects of active tectonics, engineering geology, petroleum geology, and environmental geology into this book to show how structural geology can contribute to solving problems in these areas. We believe that this will help break down the disciplinary barriers between geologists and engineers who will need to interact to solve these complex problems.