Ground stability and geohazards

Building damage in external wall. Click to enlarge.
How will the built environment (including regional infrastructure) be affected by changes in the physical properties of geological materials caused by environmental implications?
What are the implications for engineering development and geohazards in the future?

The physical properties of geological materials are incredibly complex and take into account their engineering properties, strength, ability to absorb water and other fluids as well as their susceptibility to compression, collapse, shrink or swell. These characteristics are strongly influenced by water content, temperature and frost, which in turn are influenced by weather and climatic conditions. It is absolutely vital, therefore, that we understand the impact of environmental change on the geosphere. In other words, what will be the physical response of the geology beneath us to the changing environment?

Improved understanding of processes and predictive modelling

Responding to these problems will involve consideration of wider issues including changes in land-use, trends of urbanisation, planning and potential changes in engineering practices, but could potentially contribute to an improved understanding of processes and predictive modelling.

More specific questions that may need to be answered:

  • How will extremes of climate impact on shrink-swell clays in the Thames basin area?
  • Can an improved understanding of the processes and response of weathering past and present provide an insight into future weathering with respect to the climate change scenarios?
  • How can the resilience of buried and above ground infrastructure be determined in response to future environmental (including climate) change?
  • Groundwater levels in the chalk in the Thames basin are fairly well understood. However, perched water levels near surface are not well characterised. How does near surface water affect aspects of engineering behaviour including shrink-swell, slope stability, compressible deposits, hydrology, near surface hydrogeology (including flooding), contaminant movement, tunnelling and sustainable drainage systems (SUDS)?

« Sustainable use of the subsurface  |  Flooding »