Research has and continues to underpin our work. The book Mortimore, R.N. & Duperret, A. (eds.). 2004. Coastal Chalk Cliff Instability, Geological Society Engineering Geology Special Publication Number 20. 173pp was based on the outcomes from the European funded ROCC (Risk Of Cliff Collapse) programme. This was followed by a second European Funded research programme jointly between the University of Brighton, the British Geological Survey (BGS), French Geological Survey (BRGM), Danish Geological Survey (GEUS), called PROTECT (PRediction Of The Erosion of Cliffed Terrains) which investigated and developed geophysical surveying methods for monitoring coastal cliff processes and prediction of coastal cliff collapses.
A further European funded 4 year research programme jointly with the University of Brighton, the French Geological Survey (BRGM) and the British Geological Survey (BGS), FLOOD 1, investigated the causes of groundwater flooding in Chalk areas of southern Britain and northern France and developed new technologies for monitoring and predicting groundwater flooding events.
During ground investigations and construction we continue to identify issues that require further research and help develop these at universities including the University of Brighton, Imperial College and Cambridge University.
New field monitoring technologies and new laboratory testing techniques from the research programmes are integrated with a progressively better understanding of Chalk geology to produce improved engineering and hydrogeological models for the Chalk across NW Europe.
Cretaceous stratigraphy and structure
Developing and refining a practical stratigraphy that can be used to create ground models for engineering and groundwater projects to a resolution of better than one metre requires continuous research on field sections and cored boreholes in each part of the Chalk stratigraphical column and in each region. This stratigraphical research continues in the higher Chalk formations in the onshore U.K. and in the immediate offshore areas where offshore tunnels and wind farms are being constructed.
Understanding how the rock mass of the Chalk has evolved requires a global approach, integrating sea-level fluctuations and tectonic episodes and investigating how these geological processes have influenced the Chalk of NW Europe. Developing a time-scale for these events requires research fieldwork from the Mediterranean, through the Alpine realm to the North West Europe including events in the Inner Hebrides related to North Atlantic opening. These areas are the focus of current research.
Recording the behaviour of Chalk in a variety of engineering settings in the onshore and offshore areas of the U.K. in the context of an accurate stratigraphy is an ongoing research effort of ChalkRock Ltd. For each Chalk formation, and each geomorphological setting (dry valley, interfluves, subglacial valley, active karst area) a geological model is being developed like the generalised one shown opposite.
The progress in development of borehole geophysics for site investigation, particularly borehole cameras, is enhancing the description and realistic weathering grade classifications of Chalk from core.
Other areas of engineering geology research include coastal cliff instability and modelling with the University of Leeds and with Brighton and Hove City Council.
Groundwater from the Chalk is a major resource for potable and industrial supply and for maintaining biodiversity in chalkland rivers and streams. If the processes in the aquifer that control water storage and release in relation to flood and drought are to be understood the first essential is a sound understanding of the detailed geology in terms of stratigraphical, lithological and rock mass parameters. ChalkRock Ltd continues to contribute to this research effort building on the FLOOD 1 project and linking to industrial contracts with Southern Water and the Environment Agency.