Groundwater supplies to maritime and coastal defences in southern England: a story of risk and innovation
Published:January 01, 2019
John D. Mather, 2019. "Groundwater supplies to maritime and coastal defences in southern England: a story of risk and innovation", Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation, E.P.F. Rose, J. Ehlen, U. L. Lawrence
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The viability of any fort or garrison depends on the availability of a reliable water supply. The source of choice is an underlying aquifer, reached by a secure on-site well or borehole. Unfortunately, at coastal and maritime sites, seawater intrusion can cause problems. In the late eighteenth century a deep well was sunk to supply the garrison at Sheerness, Kent, which successfully exploited sands beneath the London Clay. At Landguard Fort in Suffolk, a shallow gallery was designed to skim freshwater overlying saline water within loose sand and shingle. In the mid-nineteenth century, a network of forts was built to defend the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth, which included some offshore forts on the Spithead shoals. Boreholes were drilled beneath these forts to abstract water from the Chalk thought to lie beneath. The Chalk proved to be at too great a depth, but the Bracklesham Group yielded a sustainable supply from <200 m. In carrying out these projects, military engineers sank wells and drilled speculative boreholes, taking financial risks, unacceptable in other parts of the public sector. They developed new technologies and their innovative ideas and discoveries led to an increased understanding of the distribution and use of groundwater.
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Military Aspects of Geology: Fortification, Excavation and Terrain Evaluation
This book complements the Geological Society’s Special Publication 362: Military Aspects of Hydrogeology. Generated under the auspices of the Society’s History of Geology and Engineering Groups, it contains papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Substantial papers describe some innovative engineering activities, influenced by geology, undertaken by the armed forces of the opposing nations in World War I. These activities were reactivated and developed in World War II. Examples include trenching from World War I, tunnelling and quarrying from both wars, and the use of geologists to aid German coastal fortification and Allied aerial photographic interpretation in World War II. The extensive introduction and other chapters reveal that ‘military geology’ has a longer history. These chapters relate to pre-twentieth century coastal fortification in the UK and the USA; conflict in the American Civil War; long-term ‘going’ assessments for German forces; tunnel repair after wartime route denial in Hong Kong; and tunnel detection after recent insurgent improvisation in Iraq.