Ripon's sinkhole problem: New method to help select safe sites for homes

The British Geological Survey team are currently finalising the model, and plan to make it publicly available during the course of the next financial year.
The British Geological Survey team are currently finalising the model, and plan to make it publicly available during the course of the next financial year.

A new 3D model is being developed by the British Geological Survey to help planners select safe sites for homes in Ripon, using mapping techniques to identify areas that could be sinkhole-prone.

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Dr Vanessa Banks of the British Geological Survey, said: "We anticipate that the Ripon 3D model will be of value to the public, potential developers and planners in helping to better manage the issues associated with gypsum dissolution and sinkhole propagation in the area of Ripon.

"The model is designed to be used in conjunction with limited written guidance to help geologists and non-geologists better understand the distribution of soluble rocks in the sub-surface. As the model shows the distribution of boreholes that have been used to formulate it, it can be used to target the areas of greatest geological uncertainty within a proposed development footprint, thereby facilitating more cost-effective investigation, as well as better management with respect to groundwater.

"It will be available for specifying the depth and types of ground investigation that might be required. The model will also be used to host ongoing research with respect to non-intrusive geophysical techniques to profile the sub-surface, modelling the hydrogeology of the subsurface, and classifying the ground in terms of its geotechnical properties."

The project was initiated in 2017 using Natural Environment Research Council Urgency Grant funding after a sinkhole opened up on Magdalen's Road in the city, and has been extended using funding from the Shallow Geohazards and Risk project/ Engineering Geology and Infrastructure programme at the British Geological Survey.

Research has been undertaken collaboratively with Harrogate Borough Council.

The British Geological Survey team are currently finalising the model, and plan to make it publicly available during the course of the next financial year.