As population density continues to rise, society is becoming increasingly reliant on underground space to accommodate its growing infrastructure, such as water and sewage management, transport, parking and extraction of natural resources through quarrying or mining.
The challenge is not simply in understanding what the impact of this increased subsurface engineering will have on the environment but also how the changing environment will impact on the efficiency of these systems.
Society is increasingly reliant on the subsurface for a range of purposes, from its role in integrated waste water management to the provision of natural resources through quarrying. These uses often compete with one another for the space and services that the subsurface provides, with the potential to adversely affect one another and impact on the wider natural environment.
The potential link between direct human intervention in the geosphere and environmental response is a two-way process: firstly, we need to understand the impact of geological and hydrogeological factors on the efficiency of systems such as ground source heat pumps and secondly we need the ability to predict the impact of subsurface engineering on the geosphere, including the extraction and introduction of material and energy.
Understanding this two-way process has the potential to support more effective management of the subsurface through improved spatial planning and the implementation of appropriate policies.
More specific questions that may need to be answered: