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AEG Foundation
Marliave Scholarship Fund

The Marliave Scholarship Fund honors the memory, work, and professional contributions of Elmer C. Marliave (1910-1967), a founding member of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, Burton H. Marliave (1917-1991), a president of the Association, and their father, Chester E. Marliave (1885-1958), a pioneer engineering geologist. The scholarship awards are grants intended to support academic activity and reward outstanding scholarship in Engineering Geology and Geological Engineering. Recipients of grants will be designated as "Marliave Scholars." Awards will be made by the AEG Foundation to outstanding students based on demonstrated ability, scholarship, potential for contributions to the profession, character, and activities in student/professional societies.


Who Were Elmer, Burton and Chester Marliave?

Chester, Elmer, and Burton Marliave
Engineering Geologists

By John A. Zivnuska
Prof. of Forestry, Retired, University of California, Berkeley
July 28, 1992

Chester Marliave (1885 - 1958) and his two sons, Elmer Marliave (1910 - 1967) and Burton Marliave (1917 - 1991) were engineering geologists who specialized in water-related structures including damsites, 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 1920s through the 1980s – projects which enabled the rapid economic growth of the state and which changed the appearance of the landscape over large areas.

Chester Marliave

Chester Marliave

Chester Marliave was born May 30, 1885, in San Francisco, California. He studied engineering and geology at the College of Mining, University of California, from 1903 to 1907. After an initial period of work for the Empire Mine, Grass Valley, California, he worked primarily on water projects. As both a geologist and a registered civil engineer, he worked on underground and surface water supply investigations, foundations for dams and appurtenant structures, tunnels, and construction materials.

His early assignments included work on the Atascadero water project and a period with the Spring Valley Water Company in San Francisco. During 1919 and 1920 he worked on ground water studies in Ignacio Valley. Next he worked for the California Division of Water Resources in ground water studies near Porterville. In 1923 he worked for the East Bay Water Company. He then returned to the Division of Water Resources, where he became the first chief geologist and continued until late 1938.

Following the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam in the early 1930s, Chester Marliave was assigned as the Division's chief geologist to work with George Hawley, an engineer, in an investigation of the condition and safety of all dams in the state impounding significant amounts of water. These investigations extended over several years. Then in late 1938 he resigned from state employment to establish his own consulting business in engineering geology.

As a consultant headquartered in Berkeley, California, he worked mainly on water development projects both in California and in the other western states. During World War II he served as a consultant to the U.S. Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers, and during 1952 he worked on water development in Brazil. He continued actively involved in his consulting practice until shortly before his death on March 22, 1958.

Elmer C. Marliave

Elmer C. Marliave

Elmer Chester Marliave was born on March 25, 1910, in Grass Valley, California. He received his A.B. degree in geological science from the University of California in 1932. He began working as a field assistant on damsite studies during his student years and following graduation he worked on various water projects.

In 1935 he joined the California Division of Water Resources as an engineering geologist. Following the resignation of Chester Marliave as chief geologist for the Division in 1938, Elmer Marliave was appointed as chief engineering geologist for the Division in 1939. He continued with the Division and its successor, the California Department of Water Resources, until 1956, except for a three year period of active duty in the Army as an artillery officer assigned to the Panama Canal Zone during World War II.

As chief engineering geologist he was in charge of all geological work performed by the Division and its successor Department, including studies of dams and reservoirs, ground-water basins, water-quality problems, and sea water intrusion. Much of his early work was concentrated on studies of ground-water basins throughout California. He was also the first geologist to inspect and prepare reports on numerous damsites. During the 1950s he directed a staff of engineering geology studies for the California State Water Project, encompassing Oroville Dam, 440 miles of aqueduct, pumping plants, power plants, tunnels, and other engineering features.

In 1956 he resigned from the California Department of Water Resources to establish his own private practice as a consulting engineering geologist. While he continued to be involved with water projects in California, he also worked on projects in other states and on numerous international studies throughout the world. His clients included international engineering firms, contractors, public agencies, and legal firms.

He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and was chairman-elect of its Engineering Geology Division at the time of his death. He was also a member of the committee of ten which founded the California Association of Engineering Geologists, predecessor to the Association of Engineering Geologists. He continued with a high level of activity in his consulting practice until the day of his death on September 24, 1967.

Burton H. Marliave

Burton Marliave

Burton Hampton Marliave was born in Berkeley, California, on September 19, 1917. He received his B.S. degree with a dual major in engineering and geology from the College of Mining, University of California, in 1939. Following his graduation, he worked for the U.S. Geological Survey in California and then for the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Utah. As a reserve officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, he was called to active duty shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served in North Africa and Italy from 1943 to 1945.

Following his release from active duty with the Corps of Engineers in the fall of 1945, he joined the Pacific Gas & Electric Company as an engineering geologist assigned to the Feather River Project, where he worked on the Cresta and Rock Creek Dams. He resigned from P.G.&E. early in 1949 to join with his father, Chester Marliave, in his father's consulting business. As a consulting engineering geologist, he specialized in water-related structures including damsites, aqueducts, pumping plants, and tunnels, but also dealt with landslide and groundwater problems. He worked with his father for ten years, first as an assistant and then as a partner. The numerous projects on which he worked during that time included the engineering geology of the Austrian, Anderson, Briones, and Nacamiento dams and damsites in the Coast Ranges of California and the Railroad Flat, Comanche, and Donnels dams and damsites in the Sierra Nevada.

After his father's death in March, 1958, Burton Marliave continued as a consultant in engineering geology on his own. His clients included numerous public agencies (with the East Bay Municipal Utility District being one of his principal clients) and a variety of private firms. Supplementing his major water-related studies, he did site studies for various campuses of the University of California, including U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Santa Cruz, and U.C. San Francisco. Most of his work was in California, but he also investigated the Round Butte and Pelton damsites in Oregon and studied geologic conditions pertaining to dams and tunnels on the Guri project in Venezuela.

During the 1980s he also served as an arbitrator on complex cases involving engineering geology for the American Arbitration Association. He was active in the California Association of Engineering Geologists from its inception in 1957 and as president of the California Association for 1962 - 63 he became the first president of the Association of Engineering Geologists when the California Association reorganized without geographic limits at the end of 1962. He never fully retired, but continued with investigations for clients of long standing until his final illness and death on February 4, 1991.

Past Awardees
  • 2020 – Spencer Whitman, Univeristy of Nevada, Reno
  • 2019 – Andrew Graber, Colorado School of Mines
  • 2018 – Stephen Semmens
  • 2017 – Robert Huber
  • 2013 – Julien Cohen-Waeber
  • 2011 – Tej Gautam
  • 2010 – Rachel Pirot
  • 2009 – Stephanie Mrozek
  • 2008 – Diana Cook
  • 2007 – Adam Prochaska
  • 2005 – Hiram Henry
  • 2004 – Dawn Schippe
  • 2003 – Jessica Pence Humble
  • 2002 – Ala Hajdarwich
  • 2001 – Wei Zhou
  • 2000 – Martin Woodard
  • 1997 – Brendan R. Fisher
  • 1995 – Paul M. Santi
  • 1994 – Tariq Cheema
  • 1993 – Francis X. Ashland
  • 1992 – Ed Medley
  • 1991 – Andrea Volkman
  • 1990 – Katherine T. Clements
  • 1989 – Anne E. Clift
  • 1988 – Greg Naugle
  • 1987 – Brian G. Hansen
  • 1986 – Kerry Cato
  • 1985 – Michael McKim, Brian Bergeron, and Benjamin Smith