M. Price writes: Banks et al. (1995) address the nature of the permeability of parts of the Chalk aquifer, provide useful data from a tracer test, and draw attention to the potential dangers of disposing of agricultural and road run-off to swallow holes. The paper includes a calculation of fissure conductivity and aperture from the results of the tracer test. In this it has to be emphasized that the calculations relate to Darcian flow in an equivalent smooth, plane, parallel-plate opening, not the more likely turbulent flow in a natural fissure. The true average aperture of the fissure is therefore likely to be significantly greater than that calculated (Price 1987, 1996).
The situation described at Stanford Dingely is one where drainage originating from impermeable Tertiary strata flows onto the Chalk and sinks into the aquifer. The majority of active Chalk sinks appear to be of this type; the drainage sinking into them originates as run-off from other strata. Rain falling anywhere on the outcrop of the Chalk is normally able to infiltrate, so water flowing across the Chalk outcrop is almost invariably allogenic drainage or water that has infiltrated the Chalk and emerged as baseflow. Drainage to sinks is therefore a minor component of recharge to the Chalk.
The tracer test undertaken into at Stanford Dingley involved introducing tracer into a known point of entry in the aquifer, and observing its arrival at a known point of emergence. Such tests almost inevitably measure the speed of groundwater movement along a