Abstract

The thermal springs of Bath, England, produce 1.25 Ml day−1 of water at 46.5 °C. The spring at Hotwells, Bristol, England, 15 km to the west, is estimated to produce between 0.17 and 0.39 Ml day−1 of water at a temperature between 22.8 and 24.4 °C. Published research suggests that the waters originate in the Mendip Hills, SW of Bath and Bristol, and are heated by geothermal energy within the Carboniferous Limestone basin (‘The Mendips Model’). The exact paths of the waters to the springs have not been established. We interpreted seismic reflection data for the urban district of Bath and for the Radstock Basin to the south of Bath. By combining the geophysical interpretations with published geological data we have established a potential route through the Carboniferous Limestone reaching sufficient depths for the waters to attain the required temperatures. We imaged a steeply dipping, fractured region of Carboniferous Limestone coincident with the valley of the River Avon and propose that this is the feature by which the thermal waters can rise rapidly to the surface, providing an explanation for the existence of these unique springs. We have incorporated these new aspects of the Mendip Model into the ‘Mendip–Avon Fracture Zone Model’.

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