Identification, investigation and classification of surface depressions and chalk dissolution features using integrated LiDAR and geophysical methods

Zoe Jeffery, Stephen Penn, Dave Giles, Linley John Hastewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The chalk bedrock of the Hampshire Basin, southern England is an important aquifer and is highly susceptible to dissolution, making the development and presence of karstic features a widespread occurrence. These features are hazardous because they provide possible pathways to the underlying aquifer and therefore present potential site-specific contamination risks. There is also evidence of extensive extraction, through both mining and surface quarrying, of chalk, flint and clay over many centuries. Geophysical techniques consisting of electromagnetic (EM31) and ground-penetrating radar surveys were used to identify and characterize target features identified from desk study data. The ground-penetrating radar and EM31 interpretations allowed the classification of non-anthropogenic target features, such as diffuse buried sinkholes with disturbed and subsiding clay-rich infill and varying symmetrical and asymmetrical morphologies. We describe here the investigations of such features identified at Holme Farm, Stansted House, Hampshire. The combination of EM31 data and ground-penetrating radar profiles facilitated the identification of a palaeovalley, cavities and irregular rockhead. This investigation identified locations of aquifer contamination risk as some sinkholes have been sites for the illegal dumping of waste or the infiltration of fertilizers, leaking sewage pipes or animal waste. This potential source of contamination utilizes the sinkhole as a pathway into the highly transmissive White Chalk Subgroup of Hampshire and has caused contamination of the aquifer. We conclude that our integrated approach of geophysical techniques linked to aerial photographs and LiDAR image interpretation was highly effective in the location and characterization of dissolution structures, infilled former quarries and mining features at this site.

The White Chalk Subgroup of the Hampshire Basin, southern England is an important aquifer and, because it is predominantly a carbonate, it is susceptible to dissolution, leading to the widespread development of karstic features. Such features can be hazardous because they provide pathways to the underlying aquifer, presenting possible site-specific risks of groundwater contamination. There is also evidence of extensive extraction, both through mining and surface quarrying, of chalk, flint and clay over many centuries. Geophysical techniques consisting of electromagnetic (EM31) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys were used to identify and characterize dissolution and anthropogenic target features identified from desk study data (collectively referred to as sinkholes) and structural geological controls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-644
JournalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Volume53
Issue number4
Early online date26 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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