26 January 2018

In Memoriam: Don U. Deere, PhD

Dr. Don U. Deere
Don U. Deere, Ph.D. - a world-renowned engineering geologist and the developer of Rock Quality Designation (RQD) – passed away on January 18, 2018 in Gainesville at the age of 95.(Obituary Here)   RQD is today a common standard used during rock core logging and scanline analysis.  Dr. Deere will be missed but his legacy of contributions and love will last for years to come.

Dr. Deere’s style was one of unbridled enthusiasm about his work,” said Don W. Deere. P.E., chairman of Deere & Ault Consultants Inc., and son of Don U. Deere. “He really pushed the envelope of combining the disciplines of geology and engineering. He loved to teach and did it through presenting real-world case histories.  Many of his students became leaders in the tunneling industry and his enthusiasm was contagious.

Dr. Deere 1960
Rock Quality Designation or RQD was reportedly invented by Dr. Deere as a way to contrast competent rock vs. weathered rock to a group of decision makers that were searching for a location to build an underground chamber according to Don W. Deere.  In fact, rumor has it that the ‘GIN’ grouting method (Grout Intensity Number) was invented in a tavern between Dr. Deere and colleague Dr. G Lombardi “on the back of a napkin while sipping gin and tonics.” (Source: TBM Memorial)

Dr. Deere’s list of engineering contributions is remarkable.  They include the World Trade Center, the Channel Tunnel, Cheyenne Mountain NORAD, Yucca Mountain, New York City water tunnels, the Washington, D.C., Metro subway, Hong Kong Island tunnel, Suez Canal Crossing, and numerous hydroelectric facilities throughout the Americas, most notably ItaipĂș, the world’s largest hydroelectric project at the time.

Many people who knew Dr. Deere say his greatest legacy is that of an enthusiastic teacher where at University of Illinois and University of Florida who had a gift able to connect with people while nurturing his next generation of great thinkers in the tunneling industry.

Dr. Deere is special to me because of his legacy, his shared connection to University of Illinois, and his development of RQD.  Midwest GeoSciences Group and the Association of Engineering Geologists will conduct a collaborative rock coring webinar in dedication to Dr. Deere later this year. -Dan.