Abstract

Laboratory experiments have been performed to demonstrate significant levels of oxygen depletion within samples of Upnor Formation of the Lambeth Group deposits. These have been used to explain the reasons for several incidences of confined space hypoxia during underground construction within the stratum beneath London.

Further investigation, using a relatively small-scale field pump-out test, revealed the rapid effects of dewatering on the generation of hypoxic gas (within the ground) and that the amount of oxygen falls to fatal levels within a very short time after commencement of pumping.

Monitoring of boreholes during ground investigation for the Thames Tideway Tunnel has indicated barometric control on the release of hypoxic gas from installations within granular deposits of the Lambeth Group, namely the Upnor Formation, as well as channel sand deposits within the Laminated Beds. In these, reduced levels of oxygen coincide with low and/or falling barometric pressure. Continuous 24-hour monitoring demonstrates that the reduction is almost instantaneous and has serious implications for the Health and Safety of underground construction personnel.

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