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Tunnels, Railways and Highways

Chalk tunnels and transport infrastructure rely on obtaining the best geological information possible. Our work has included ground investigations and conceptual ground models for Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL, Union Rail Ltd.), CROSSRAIL and the Thames Tideway Tunnels (Thames Water). We are currently working on the A303 Stonehenge Tunnel (AECOM), the Lower Thames Crossing and HS2 tunnels. Each project has yielded a unique geology which has proved significant for the engineering design.

Offshore Wind Farms in the North Sea, Baltic and English Channel

Many offshore wind turbine foundations are on a wide range of different Chalk lithologies, stratigraphies and geological structures. Our offshore work to identify this critical geology has included localities such as North Sea sites at Thanet, Llyn and Inner Dowsing, Sheringham Shoal, Triton Knoll (Statkraft), Westermost Rough (Dong) and Dudgeon (Statoil), Wikinger Baltic Sea (Scottish Power) and Fécamp (EDF) on the French Channel coast.

Offshore Petroleum Industry

For the petroleum industry in the North Sea and Atlantic Continental Shelf our focus is on investigating the detailed chalk geology and structures in relation to reservoir properties. We also run workshops to aid interpretation and management of potential Chalk oilfields. The most recent workshops have been for Shell in Aberdeen (Shearwater Team); a Joint Venture between Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and Chevron on the continental margin: and with Chevron in the Outer Moray Firth. Our field studies have focused on showing the multidisciplinary teams the detailed Chalk geology relevant to the North Sea and we use exposures in Dorset, Sussex, the Yorkshire coast and northern France.  

Coastal Cliff Collapse and Erosion Processes.

Following our research programmes on the Chalk cliffs of Denmark, France and the UK we have continued to work with local authorities (e.g. Brighton and Hove City engineers) on coastal cliff erosion especially in relation to areas of concern for public safety.


Understanding Chalk groundwater behaviour, in relation to aquifer properties and controls on flooding and drought, has benefited from the application of relatively new, detailed lithostratigraphy combined with our better understanding of structural controls on sediments and the weathered ground profile.

Groundwater investigations include regional studies (London Basin Aquifer: Conceptual Model with ESI for the Environment Agency on the South Downs, London Basin and Yorkshire Chalk aquifers, pumping trials on tunnels, investigations of the effectiveness of effluent dispersal to the Chalk aquifer (Southern Water) and investigations into the controls on groundwater flooding (a European Funded research programme, FLOOD 1).  The current project in the North Downs with BGS and Southern Water takes the latest geology of the Chalk and applies it to key parts of the North Downs Chalk aquifer.

International Research Projects in conjunction with University of Brighton

1. Flood 1 Project

Flood 1 investigated the role of groundwater in flooding on Chalk catchments by providing a more detailed understanding of processes in the unsaturated zone of the Chalk aquifer of southern England and northern France, it developed monitoring techniques for groundwater in the saturated and unsaturated zones, and produced more appropriate methodologies and tools for forecasting groundwater flood events over longer timescales than is currently possible.

The FLOOD1 project improved our understanding of the role that the unsaturated zone plays in controlling the occurrence and timing of groundwater flooding in Chalk catchments.

2. Inform Project Cliff Stability

The variation in physical properties and strength in the different chalks forming the cliffs indicates the strong stratigraphical and sedimentological controls on mechanical performance of the material and mass in cliff failures.


3. Climawat Project

The CLIMAWAT project investigated the impacts of changing climate (in particular rainfall) on the amount and quality of rainwater recharge to major fractured rock aquifers in chalk and granite catchments.

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