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SGTK - Portrait

Swiss Geotechnical Commission

The Swiss Geotechnical Commission (SGTK) is an independent board of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT). Since its foundation in 1899, the office has been located at ETH Zurich, today within the Department of Earth Sciences. The ETH provides the SGTK with the necessary infrastructure to fulfill its mandate and in return the SGTK participates in teaching and research projects.


The SGTK's mandate, given by the federal government, is to investigate usable mineral resources in Switzerland, to archive samples and data and to make them accessible to interested parties. In addition the SGTK also undertakes own research projects and gives scientific advice in the fields of mineral resources, applied geology, mineralogy, petrology and hydrogeology. The research is characterised by its closeness to practical experience.

One example is the investigation of hard rock deposits in Switzerland. Hard rocks are utilised, because of their strength and resistance to stress, as ballast or chippings in railway and road construction. In Switzerland suitable places to quarry hard rocks slowly are becoming scarce, and although enough deposits exist, they are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, which are used for tourism. Research projects deal with these issues from a geological-geotechnical perspective and the results are used to provide solutions. Further results are incorporated into teaching programmes, including e-learning which deals with interdisciplinary and environmentally relevant questions.

A large number of basic data sets are generated by the SGTK, which are published as printed maps, textbooks, interactive media and databases. The SGTK also maintains a large collection of commercially important rocks found in Switzerland. Furthermore, the SGTK conducts geological city tours and deals with building and historical art issues such as 'rock-fashion' on buildings and other objects. The most recent project, 'Stein und Wein', planned to be published as a book, describes the geology of vineyards and highlights the association between science, culture and pleasure.