The North West of England has played a pivotal role in the development of modern Great Britain. It has provided a major centre for the inception and growth of the industrial revolution with the port of Liverpool acting as a gateway to the world.
The geology beneath the feet of this growth has also been key the industrial success of the area.
The coal mined from the Lancashire coalfield provided the power and heat necessary for the cotton mills, engineering factories and chemical plants.
The Sherwood Sandstone Group has not only provided the solid foundations upon which the city of Liverpool is built, but also acts as an aquifer for drinking water in the region.
Glaciers have carved their way across the region, remoulding and reshaping the bedrock, gouging hidden glacial valleys deep beneath the modern landscape, and depositing a mosaic of sediments.
The region now boasts a comprehensive industrial heritage, but is now moving away from the industrial landscapes that inspired Lowry and is moving towards a vigorous phase of economic and social regeneration in former industrial areas such as Media City UK in Manchester, the Omega site in Warrington, and the Kings Waterfront project in Liverpool.
This industrial heritage has left behind a legacy of 'modern' geological deposits in the form of artificial ground, sometimes contaminated, but also providing archaeological windows into this industrial past, and often unearthing evidence from prehistoric times.
The region also supports a high population density which requires a vast infrastructure. Therefore it is important to understand this complex relationship between bedrock geology, superficial geology, man-made deposits and the infrastructure that runs through it.
The British Geological Survey holds a vast array of geological data for the region, with the mapping and modelling of faults 600 metres beneath the surface to excavations 1.5 metres deep on the surface.
The engineering and hydrogeological properties of the Sherwood Sandstone Group have been investigated and work in the Mersey Estuary has looked at the industrial pollution locked within the estuarine sediments along with evidence of past sea level change.
All of this data has been assimilated on a regional scale using GSI3D (Geological Surveying and Investigation in 3 Dimensions) producing a 3D model of the subsurface along the Lower Mersey Corridor that extends from the eastern portion of The Wirral to the eastern boroughs of Manchester, areas that form part of The Northern Way initiative. This model provides an important tool for planners, academia and the public in understanding the relationship between subsurface geology and anthropogenic alteration from the region's complex geological and industrial past.
Contact project manager Simon Price for further information