P.G. Seal Usage and other Compliance Issues

Reference: TBPG RULE §851.156: P.G. Seals and Geoscience Firm Identification

  • How to obtain a P.G. Seal:  If a new P.G. does not expect to use a physical ink or embossed seal in the P.G.’s professional practice (he or she expects to place an electronically generated seal on all documents that require a seal and physically sign the document), he or she may choose to meet the requirement of submitting a seal to the TBPG by generating an electronic seal and printing it on the appropriate P.G. Seal Submission Form (Form X-PG Seal Submission) in the appropriate place. If a new P.G. does plan to purchase an ink stamp (or an embosser), then the new P.G. should use the ink stamp/embosser to provide the seal to the TBPG on Form X.
    A P.G. may use any vendor to produce a physical seal. A vendor who provides this service may be located by online searches. Also, most major office supply chains perform this service.
    TBPG recommends that ink seals be purchased in lieu of embossed seals because they are easier to decipher and unlike embossed seals, will be easily visible on a copy made of a sealed document.
  • The TBPG guidance for use and application of the P.G. Seal states that distributing published geoscientific data to the public does not necessarily require a seal on the work product. What is considered “published geoscientific data”?
    TBPG defines “published geoscientific data” as information from various geoscientific resources (examples include, but are not limited to, maps or publications generated by the United States Geological Society (USGS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG), or Texas Water Development Board (TWDB)). Conveying information directly from these published resources does not constitute geoscience. However, if professional judgment is used to interpret information from these resources, the resulting decisions may be considered the professional practice of geoscience and may require a P.G. seal on the work product.  See also exemptions:

TOC Sec. 1002.252. EXEMPTIONS:
The following activities do not require a license under this chapter:

  1. geoscientific work performed by an employee or a subordinate of a license holder under this chapter if the work does not include the responsible charge of geoscientific work and is performed under the direct supervision of a licensed geoscientist who is responsible for the work;
  2. geoscientific work performed by an officer or employee of the United States practicing solely as such an officer or employee;
  3. geoscientific work performed exclusively in exploring for and developing oil, gas, or other energy resources, base metals, or precious or nonprecious minerals, including sand, gravel, or aggregate, if the work is done in and for the benefit of private industry;
  4. geoscientific research conducted through an academic institution, local, state, or federal governmental agency, nonprofit research institution, or for-profit organization, including submission of a report on the research to a public agency, unless the work is covered by Section 1002.251(c);
  5. teaching geoscience or a related physical or natural science;
  6. work customarily performed by a cartographer, technician, or physical or natural scientist, including a geologist, geophysicist, soil scientist, chemist, archaeologist, geographer, or oceanographer, if the work does not include the public practice of geoscience;
  7. work performed by an archaeologist, geoscientist, or other person conducting a stratigraphic or historical geological investigation for archaeological purposes;
  8. testifying or preparing and presenting an exhibit or document for the sole purpose of being placed in evidence before an administrative or judicial tribunal or hearing if the testimony, exhibit, or document does not imply that the person is licensed under this chapter;
  9. the evaluation by a state agency, as defined by Section 2001.003, Government Code, or by a hearing examiner of an exhibit or document offered or placed in evidence before an administrative tribunal; or
  10. the determination of the suitability of a site for a specific on-site sewage disposal system by a person who has successfully completed site evaluation training approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is:
    1. registered by the commission as:
      1. an installer, if the commission recognizes only one level of installer; or
      2. the highest level of installer recognized by the commission, if the commission recognizes more than one level of installer;
    2. a designated representative; or
    3. a registered professional sanitarian.
  • What reports must be sealed? Unless exempted by TOC 1002.252, all geoscientific reports required by municipal or county ordinance, state or federal law, state agency rule, or federal regulation, and all other reports provided to the public must be sealed.
  • What documents, drawings, etc. within a report must be sealed?
    TAC §851.156(k): Professional Geoscientists shall affix an unobscured seal, original signature, and date of signature to the originals of all documents containing the final version of any geoscience document as outlined in subsection (l) of this section before such document is released from their control. Preliminary documents released from their control shall identify the purpose of the document, the Professional Geoscientist(s) of record and the Professional Geoscientist license number(s), and the release date by placing the following text or similar wording instead of a seal: “This document is released for the purpose of (Examples: interim review, mark-up, drafting) under the authority of (Example: Leslie H. Doe, P.G. 0112) on (date). It is not to be used for (Examples: construction, bidding, permit) purposes.”
    TAC §851.156(l): The Professional Geoscientist shall sign, seal and date the original title sheet or signature page of geoscience documents, specifications, details, calculations or estimates, and each sheet of maps, drawings, cross sections or other figures representing geoscientific services carried out under the supervision of the geoscientist regardless of size or binding. All unbound geoscience documents, including but not limited to research reports, opinions, recommendations, evaluations, addenda, and geoscience software shall bear the Professional Geoscientist’s printed name, date, signature and the designation “P.G.” or other terms allowed under §1002.251 of the Act, unless the geoscience service is exempt under §1002.252 of the Texas Occupations Code. Electronic correspondence of this type shall include an electronic signature as described in subsection (f) of this section or be followed by a hard copy containing the Professional Geoscientist’s printed name, date, signature and the designation “P.G.” or other terms allowed under §1002.251 of the Act.
  • Must all pages of forms used for reporting information to state agencies be sealed and signed?  In order to comply with TBPG rules, a P.G. must seal in accordance with TAC §851.156 (k) and §851.156 (l) (see the FAQ response above). However, a P.G. must also seal documents in compliance with governmental agency rules, when such are more stringent than TBPG’s rules.
  • If geology is added to a base map prepared by others must the map be sealed?  Yes. However, it is recommended that the source of the base map be made clear and the additions made clear in a note added to the map in the vicinity of the placement of the seal.
  • Must boring logs contain a seal and a signature?  Yes, if the boring log is prepared by a Professional Geoscientist.
  • Can a certification page be used that lists each of the people that were significantly involved in a project along with their areas of responsibility to identify the persons sealing a document?  Yes.
  • Do Phase I, II, or III Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) require a seal?  The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has published standards for Environmental Site Assessments.  Often, reports generated by industry professionals are generated that do not fully meet the definition of ASTM’s guidelines for the type of Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I, II, or III) that the report is labeled to be. For example, a firm may call an environmental site assessment a “limited Phase II ESA.” A Phase II ESA that is completed fully in compliance with ASTM Guidelines does involve an assessment or interpretation of the subsurface (which is the public practice of geoscience). If a report is generated called a “”limited Phase II ESA” and the report is “limited” in that it does not involve an assessment of or the interpretation of the subsurface, then the report would not be required to be sealed.
    By the same token, if a report is called a “Phase I ESA,” but the report does involve an assessment of or the interpretation of the subsurface, then the report must be sealed.
    If an Environmental Site Assessment is completed fully in compliance with ASTM Guidelines, the following demonstrates which reports must be sealed:
  1. Phase I ESA:  No
  2. Phase II ESA:  Yes
  3. Phase III ESA:  Yes

In general, all geoscience reports or any other reports containing new or original geoscience must be sealed unless otherwise exempt under Sec. 1002.252 of the Act. Anyone that reports geoscience information taken from the literature should reference the source for any geoscience reported.

  • Is a license as a Professional Geoscientist required for a Groundwater Conservation District employee to take responsible charge of a groundwater availability report that is required by state law?  Yes, the Texas Geoscience Practice Act (Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1002) §1002.251(c) states, “A person may not take responsible charge of a geoscientific report or a geoscientific portion of a report required by municipal or county ordinance, state or federal law, state agency rule, or federal regulation that incorporates or is based on a geoscientific study or geoscientific data unless the person is licensed under this chapter.”  It is important to also note that per §1002.263(b), “a geoscientific report, document, or other record, as defined by the board, that is offered to the public and prepared or issued by or under the supervision of a licensed geoscientist must, in accordance with rules adopted by the board, include the full name, signature, and license number of the license holder who prepared the report, document, or record or under whose supervision it was prepared and bear an impression of the license holder’s seal.”