Aspects of military hydrogeology and groundwater development by Germany and its allies in World War I
Dierk Willig, Hermann Häusler, 2012. "Aspects of military hydrogeology and groundwater development by Germany and its allies in World War I", Military Aspects of Hydrogeology, E. P. F. Rose, J. D. Mather
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The German Army developed a military geological organization during World War I largely as a response to near-static battlefield conditions on the Western Front, in Belgium and northern France. In 1916 it was assigned to support military survey, but in late 1918 it was reassigned to the engineer branch of the Army. It contained over 350 geologists and associated technicians by the end of the war. Military geologists contributed advice on engineering geology and hydrogeology (principally on water supply, but also site drainage). They compiled a large number and wide range of groundwater prospect maps to guide military planning, at scales typically from 1:250 000 to 1:25 000. They contributed advice to guide effective use of groundwater by means of dug or bored wells, ‘Abyssinian’ driven tube wells, and protected capturing of springs. Field hygiene was of particular concern, and military geologists helped to avoid contamination of groundwater, for example by appropriate siting of cess-pits and cemeteries. A few officers made use of dowsing in attempts to locate groundwater, including at least one German in support of Ottoman Turk campaigns SW from Palestine towards the British-held Suez Canal, their Austro-Hungarian allies in campaigns south against Italy and in the Balkans, but with relatively insignificant success.
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This book, generated under the auspices of the Geological Society of London’s History of Geology and Hydrogeological Groups, contains 20 papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Historically, it gives examples of the influence of groundwater on battlefield tactics and fortress construction; describes how groundwater was developed for water supply and overcome as an obstacle to military engineering and cross-country vehicular movement by both sides in World Wars I and II; and culminates with examples of the application of hydrogeology to site boreholes in recent conflicts, notably in Afghanistan. Examples of current research described include hydrological model development; the impact of variations in soil moisture on explosive threat detection and cross-country vehicle mobility; contamination arising from defence sites and its remediation; privatization of water supplies; and the equitable allocation of resources derived from an international transboundary aquifer.