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Environmental problems caused by gypsum karst and salt karst in Great Britain

By Anthony Cooper


In Great Britain, gypsum karst is widespread in the Late Permian (Zechstein) gypsum of north-eastern England. Here and offshore, a well-developed palacokarst with large breccia pipes was formed by dissolution of the underlying Permian gypsum. Farther south, around Ripon, the same rocks are still being dissolved, forming an actively evolving phreatic gypsum-maze cave system. This is indicated by the presence of numerous active subsidence hollows and sulphate-rich springs. In the English Midlands, gypsum karst is locally developed in the Triassic deposits south of Derby and Nottingham. Where gypsum is present, its fast rate of dissolution and the collapse of overlying strata lead to difficult civil-engineering and construction conditions; these can be further aggravated by water abstraction. Salt (halite) occurs within British Permian and Triassic strata, and has a long history of exploitation. The main salt fields are in central England and the coastal areas of northwest and northeast England. In central England, saline springs indicate that rapid, active dissolution occurs that can cause subsidence problems. In the past, subsidence was aggravated by shallow mining and the uncontrolled extraction of vast amounts of brine. This has now almost stopped, but there is a legacy of unstable buried salt karst, formed by both natural and induced dissolution. The buried salt karst occurs at depths ranging from about 40 m to 130 m; above these depths, the overlying strata are foundered and brecciated. In the salt areas, construction and development are hampered by both abandoned mines and by natural or induced brine runs, with their associated unstable ground. \u

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1007/BF03176477
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