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Sustainable Exploitation of the Subsurface

Sustainable Exploitation of the Subsurface: The geology, engineering and environment of our underground asset

The subsurface is a dynamic environmental system influenced by the interaction of water, heat and man’s engineering activities. The urban built environment modifies the natural link between the surface and the subsurface by interacting and changing the surface drivers or by directly changing the structure of the subsurface. Although we consider the subsurface as a single resource, it may be subdivided into four resources relating to: construction space, geo-materials, groundwater and geothermal (Parriaux, 2007).

It has long been recognised that the subsurface is a complex, scarce and valuable resource. With urbanisation, society is now becoming more reliant on using the subsurface for physical infrastructure (e.g. underground networks such as utilities & transport) and for the storage and containment of resources (energy & water) and waste (CO2 & Radioactive Waste), in order to provide the essential support to a well-functioning society.

With this development comes increased pressure on space and resources and increasingly, underground development. Critical to accommodating this is a requirement for a good understanding of the subsurface beneath our feet and importantly how the ground will respond now and in the future to various events (e.g. climate change &/or increased urbanization).

A two day meeting coordinated by the Geological Society of London & the UK IAEG National group that brought together current thinking of the role the ground plays in providing a resilient underground resource, highlighting:

  • Current investigation techniques needed to achieve comprehensive understanding of ground-infrastructure interaction, examining the various technologies, techniques and issues that need to be considered (ideally through case studies)
  • Skills geoscientists use to characterize underground space for different purposes
  • Impact underground development has on infrastructure, anthropogenic and natural geology; as well as how this could change in the future.
  • Role of regulation in managing underground space

Keynote Speakers

  • Sir Mark Walport (UK Government Chief Scientist) 
  • Nick O'Riordam (ARUP)
  • Iain Stewart (University of Plymouth)
  • Ignace van Campenhout (Rotterdam Municipality)
  • Tony Almond (Offshore and Pipeline Policy Team, HSE)
  • Keith Bowers (Transport for London)

Speaker Presentations
(in order of the programme)

Day 1

Day 2 


  • Helen Reeves (British Geological Survey)
  • Ian Jefferson (University of Birmingham)   

 Follow this event on Twitter: @geolsoc, #exploitsubsurface and #yearofmud 

2015: Year of Mud

Year of Mud, and other themed events in 2015


Event Details

Date: 20-21 May 2015

Venue: The Geological Society, Burlington House, London



Jess Aries
The Geological Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly, London
United Kingdom

Tel: 020 7432 0983
Fax: 020 7494 0579
Email Jess Aries

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