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A Mole in London: Tunnelling Beneath the City

March's Shell London lecture, delivered by Rory Mortimore (Brighton University) at the Geological Society on 16 March 2011.

This talk illustrates how geologists construct ground models from boreholes and geophysics to help engineers decide on the alignment and construction methods for London tunnels and to identify potential risks to a project’s successful completion.

Tunnels in the chalk beneath London for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Crossrail, and the Thames Water Lee and Thames tunnels build on the experience gained from chalk tunnels in the North and South Downs and the investigations for the Stonehenge Tunnels. Following the ground investigations, much new information has emerged on the geology of London including the presence of major faults, lateral variations in the chalk and the extent of uplift and erosion of the chalk prior to the sedimentation of the Palaeogene Thanet Sand Formation. This new geology is informing the development of models for the hydrogeology as well as the engineering geology of the London Basin.


Rory Mortimore


Rory Mortimore is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Geology at the University of Brighton, Visiting Professor of Engineering Geology at the University of Leeds and Director of ChalkRock Ltd., a registered company specialising in research, development and applied geology of the Chalk in Europe. He was responsible for teaching geology to civil engineers from 1976-2004, and started the postgraduate and undergraduate degrees in Geology in 1997 at the University of Brighton. Alongside the academic work, which includes over 70 refereed papers, he has 35 years consultancy experience, including contributing to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), Crossrail and Thames Water Lee and Thames tunnels.