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The Fourth Glossop Lecture

Reading the Ground: Morphology and Geology in Site Appraisal

J. N. Hutchinson
Emeritus Professor of Engineering Geomorphology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London SW7 2BU, UK

describes site investigation as basically an exercise in

engineering geology, for if at the very start the geological
n this lecture, the process of reading the ground structure of the site is misinterpreted, then any subse-

I is explored, some of the necessary background is

defined and ways of improving our present and future
competence in this area are outlined. It acknowl-
edges the world-wide scope of this activity, but employs
mainly the narrower canvas of mass movements in NW
quent sampling, testing and calculation may be so much
labour in vain (Glossop 1968). This view is amplified
and reinforced by the present lecture.

European conditions to illustrate its nature. IntroductionChoice of theme

Some basic tools which can assist in this process are
first noted, good databases, the techniques of initial site In most civil engineering projects, the greatest element of
appraisal, comprising desk study, site reconnaissance risk attaches to uncertainties about the ground con-
and mapping (with the aid of stereoscopic air photo ditions (Fookes & Vaughan 1986). These uncertainties,
interpretation and other remote sensing techniques), of lithology, stratigraphy and structure, introduce a
terrain modelling and the use of associated well-logged level of complexity to geotechnical and hydrogeological
and sampled trial trenches. The importance of the classi- analysis that is completely unknown in other engineering
fication of mass movements, not least to develop an disciplines (Freeze et al. 1990). To appraise a site
agreed terminology, is touched upon and the great value, properly, identifying the nature, structure and bound-
even at this early stage, of the influence line approach in aries of its component materials, the locations and
assessing rapidly the effects of proposed cuts and fills is nature of discontinuities present and any relevant
noted. changes in conditions, and thence to establish a suf-
An attempt is then made to identify the relevant ficiently correct geological model to form the basis of the
vocabulary for reading the ground, that is those physical geotechnical model for design of the proposed works, is
phenomena which bear on site appraisal. These are undoubtedly one of the more demanding tasks that we
divided into bedrock elements, of which lithology and face. Its global and all-embracing nature is indicated by
tectonics are highlighted, and Quaternary elements, Fookes & Vaughan (1986) and by Fookes (1997).
particularly those that occurred in areas of cold climate, It is not easy to determine how satisfactory our
i.e. past freezing and thawing, sea-level changes, hydro- performance is in this area: on the one hand some firms
geological features and glacial, periglacial, fluvial and are doing first class work, young engineering geologists
marine erosional and depositional features. Abandoned and geomorphologists are winning the Glossop Award,
cliffs and inland scarps in chalk and some clays are then and we have the confidence to route our entrance to the
identified as characteristic landforms, and their nature Channel Tunnel through an old landslide (Varley et al.
and development are also explored. Case records of 1996a). Conversely, each year brings earthworks di-
successful and unsuccessful earthworks on clayey culties, with resultant time over-runs and heavy financial
scarps are also reviewed, in relation to the quality of initial losses and damage to the reputation of the profession
site appraisal undertaken. (Institution of Civil Engineers 1991; Site Investigation
In conclusion, significant weaknesses in our current Steering Group 1993). Various reviews of the position
education and training in this area are identified, specifi- by Ground Engineering are also disquieting. For in-
cally a near-absence of geomorphology and insufficient stance, in the issue of November 1999, it is stated that
Quaternary geology, and proposals made to remedy only 39% of firms working in the field of site investi-
these. gation consider it worth-while to carry out a desk study.
Overall, particularly in the area of initial site appraisal,
Keywords: case studies, education, engineering geology, geomor-
phology, mass movements, quaternary geology
comprising the operations which precede the main sub-
surface investigations involving borings, instrumen-
tation and testing, performance can be described as
Appreciation of Mr R. Glossop uneven.
The geomorphology of any site is precious and
One of Mr Glossops great strengths was his insistence fragile, the end result of an interplay of thousands to
on the importance of geology in civil engineering. He millions of years between solid and Quaternary geology,
Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 34, 750. 1470-9236/01 $15.00  2001 The Geological Society, London

hydrogeology, climate, process and the nature of the well-supported and well-logged trial trenches to
ground as controlled by its physical properties. All too explore the near-surface features mapped,
often, however, the site morphology is ignored, some- the influence line approach to the response of slopes to
times even destroyed in a day by the bulldozing of access applied cuts and fills, deriving from the morphology
tracks for drill rigs (for boreholes which are often badly of the slip surfaces present,
sited), and its Quaternary geology neglected. These validated slope development models.
factors are believed to be responsible for the tendency of
In addition, on both a personal and a teaching level, it is
initial site appraisal to lag behind the impressive devel-
very rewarding to visit the sites of past and recent classic
opments in other areas of geotechnics and to be the
failures, such as Malpasset, Vaiont, Hawkley Hanger,
source of many of our worst mistakes.
Folkestone Warren, Sevenoaks and Mam Tor.
The main themes of this paper are thus:
The vocabulary includes the following elements:
that the weakest area of our professional skills lies in
surface and near-surface rocks, their lithology,
initial site appraisal,
diagenesis and weathering,
that in such appraisals, a holistic approach should be
their structures and discontinuities,
made which, following a thorough desk study, will
the climatic and sea-level changes of the Quaternary,
include in its early stages an appraisal of the geo
the resulting, active and relict, erosional and depo-
morphology of the site in its geological, especially
sitional, glacial, periglacial, extraglacial, fluvial and
Quaternary, setting. In this I am following the lead of
marine features,
my predecessors, which include Glossop, Skempton,
hydrogeological features,
Henkel, Higginbottom and Fookes.
fluvial and coastal changes,
A major paper by Fookes et al. (2000) addresses the climatic records and predictions,
general problem of site investigation and emphasizes the mass movements on slopes and those involving
need for an understanding of the total geological and sinking of the ground surface,
geomorphological history of any site, including event classification schemes and terminology,
magnitude/frequency relationships. The present paper landforms and their dating (particularly whether
pursues a similar theme on a very much smaller canvas, Post-glacial or earlier),
concentrating chiefly on conditions close at hand, in volcanic and seismic activity (not discussed further
temperate and relict cold climates, and on mass move- here).
ments on slopes. Nevertheless, some general principles

Some tools for reading the ground

Elements of reading the ground
A facility to read the ground (Dearman & Fookes Initial site appraisal
1974; Brunsden et al. 1975) springs from curiosity about
The procedure for initial site appraisal is well estab-
landscape features leading to an informed interest in
lished, if not always followed. It is important to make a
their morphology, geology and behaviour. It is to some
holistic approach and advantageous to proceed in a
extent intangible and is not easy to formalize. What
step-wise fashion, with each step being planned on the
tools are available?, what vocabulary is involved?, how
results of the preceding one, from the least expensive to
can this facility be taught?
the more expensive operations. (The generally satisfac-
In addition, of course, to an informed brain and
tory, main sub-surface site investigation operations are
trained pair of eyes (Fookes 1997), the available tools
outside the present scope.)
Initial site appraisal consists of:
a knowledge of geology and geomorphology,
(a) Desk study,
a knowledge of soil and rock mechanics, particularly
(b) Site reconnaissance and mapping,
in slope stability, foundation engineering, tunnelling
(c) Shallow sub-surface investigations, for example in
and mining,
the form of trial trenches, as these link logically
geomorphological and engineering geological maps
with (b) and often with (a).
and mapping,
a growing corpus of case records, It is good practice to prepare an immediate, interim
databases of topographical, geomorphological, report on the steps (a) to (c) above as they are com-
geological, mining, hydrogeological and historical pleted, to guide the planning of the succeeding,
information, maps, references, etc, more detailed investigations. In some cases, it may be
vertical stereoscopic and oblique aerial photographs appropriate to carry out some preliminary geophysical
and satellite imagery, investigations at this stage.

Desk study. The methodology of this operation is

described by Perry & West (1966) and by Shilston et al.
(1998). A summary by J. Henry of the major desk
study resource currently provided by aerial photographs
and satellite imagery forms Appendix A.

Site reconnaissance and mapping. Techniques and exam-

ples of various types of engineering geomorphological
mapping are set out by Brunsden et al. (1975),
Doornkamp et al. (1979), Griths & Marsh (1986) and
Matthews & Clayton (1986). The three-dimensional
modelling of the terrain using GIS is increasingly used.
The essence of all such mapping and modelling is the
integration of air photo and satellite imagery interpret-
ation and other information from the desk study with
field observations in a manner to best define the general
physical and historical setting. Guidance on air photo
interpretation in Britain is given by Dumbleton & West
(1970) and, in a Canadian context, by Mollard (1984).
While here it is the importance of geomorphological
mapping that is emphasized, because of its frequent
neglect, it is generally desirable to produce a combined
engineering geomorphological, geological, and hydro-
geological map. Guidelines on mapping of the latter type
are given by Anon (1972) and by Dearman (1991).
The process of walking, observing and mapping the
whole site is a most valuable discipline, greatly superior
to many walk-over surveys. The essence is to map form, Fig. 1. Geomorphological map in thick woodland, Bath Cop-
describe materials and record evidence of process. Breaks pice, Worcs. Slip A B reactivated in 1860/61 by construction of
of slope are plotted, and whether convex, concave, sharp the railway (Anon 1861).
or rounded, together with signs of distress to ground,
vegetation or structures. Linear marker features are
particularly checked. All water courses are mapped, solifluction sheet, no clear relationship between erosion
even if ephemeral, and evidence of stream or seepage and deposition is usually discernible, their main mor-
erosion noted. Signs of groundwater issues, including phological expression (spotted immediately by the New
vegetation, are plotted together with details of any wells. Zealand geomorphologist, Te Punga (1957), as he
Anomalies are looked for. Each feature encountered is steamed up the Thames on his first visit to England)
related to: being smooth convexo-concave profiles and very gently
inclined foot slopes. Fortunately, as most such sheets are
the underlying geology,
shallow (usually 1 to 3 m thick), their true nature may
the geological/geomorphological history,
generally be found by trial trenching.
the results of geomorphological processes,
Particular attention should be given to wooded slopes
the activity of man.
which, in cleared and farmed areas of Britain, are often
In these operations it is necessary to have a good idea of in that state because they are too unstable for culti-
the varieties of features present and their terminology. vation. If necessary under such conditions, a surveyed
This is discussed briefly below for mass movements on grid of pegs may be set out to map from. An example of
slopes. part of a map produced in this way is given in Figure 1.
The rear scarps of landslides tend to be concave A previous brief walk-over survey of the closely wooded
downwards in plan (with straight sections if constrained site had identified fresh scarps in the upper slopes, which
by joints or faults) and concave in profile. Their toes aroused some anxiety for the associated pipeline. The
tend to be convex downslope and convex in profile. The subsequent geomorphological mapping based on a 20 m
principle of conservation of mass holds. Thus, allowing grid showed, among other things, that the scarps had
for bulking toe and depositional features should have resulted from bulldozer cuts to do with forestry and
corresponding erosion niches upslope and vice versa. were not of concern.
However, in the case of a sinkhole, for example, the
debris is lost underground and cannot be matched to the Well logged trial trenches. In trench logging, safety must
collapse feature. Similarly, in the case of a general be paramount, with adequate support and good air. Any

smear on the trench faces must be removed. The main

objectives are then to identify and describe the soil/rock
types present and to deliniate their boundaries, to
describe their states of weathering, to locate significant
discontinuities, especially joints and shear surfaces, to
relate where possible the shallow sub-surface conditions
to the surface morphology and to decide what is in situ
and what not in situ (Fookes 1969; Skempton et al. 1991;
Spink 1991; Cox et al. 1986). The latter is sometimes
dicult. In general, unweathered, jointed/fissured clays
in situ exhibit a well-fitting, three-dimensional jigsaw
fabric. Where these have moved as a sizeable block there
may be a discernible change in attitude (unless sliding
was along bedding) and, as noted by Skempton (1972),
some increase in water content. With weathering of
in situ jointed/fissured clays, matrix may develop
between clasts, but usually without rotation of the latter.
Well-developed clayey colluvium is characterized by
mudslide fabric (Hutchinson 1970, 1988), with ran- Fig. 2. Slip aecting power line at Aldington, Kent.
domly orientated clasts of the parent material in a softer
matrix, often with pin-hole (small air bubble) structure.
(Fig. 2). Two power lines run from the Dungeness
While generally not the case in coarse taluvium
Nuclear Power Station inland. Both have to cross the
(Fookes 1997), shear surfaces are frequently present in
abandoned cli backing Romney Marsh, which is sandy
clayey colluvium, both near its base and within it. Where
to the west, clayey to the north. That to the west passes
gleyed, they are readily seen and may be revealed by the
without diculty through the breach aorded by the
bucket of the back-hoe (always observe the digging
River Rother, but that to the north not only traverses a
operation). Ungleyed surfaces are particularly dicult
clayey abandoned cli (probably also soliflucted, as
to find in soft to very soft clays. They may become
suggested by Howland 1987) but does so where mapped
evident only after trenches have been open for a few
by the British Geological Survey (1966) as landslipped.
days, or even a couple of weeks, allowing their faces to
At least two of the pylons were sited in the unstable area
dry out. Trenching should thus be done in the summer if
and, in the winter of 1966/67, reactivation of a fairly
possible. A one-inch scraper is a convenient tool: a
small shallow landslide (probably by the tree felling
turning and plucking rather than a cutting action should
associated with construction of the power line) led to the
be used (T. Spink pers. comm.). The directions of striae
destruction of one of these. The power line was out of
on slip surfaces should always be logged. Only thus
action for over a month.
could the relevant shear among five found in a trial shaft
More recently, in connection with the estimation of
near Birmingham be identified (Hutchinson et al. 1973).
chalk flow hazard to the ventilation and access works
Undisturbed block samples should be taken for shear
for the Channel Tunnel at the site of the former
testing, both in the mass and on contained slip surfaces,
Shakespeare Colliery, Kent, comparisons of the various
disturbed samples for index testing and, where possible,
editions of the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Sheets were
organic samples for dating.
made as a routine part of the desk study. As shown in
Figure 3, the disappearance of a swath of colliery
Examples of site appraisal. A common mistake is to
buildings (shown black), a crane and part of the sea wall
narrow the investigations prematurely. A (happily old)
between the 1906 and 1938 editions was inferred to have
instance of this was in the foundation design for a
been brought about by an otherwise unrecorded chalk
multi-storey building on the Kimmeridge Clay on the
flow (Hutchinson 1998) in this sensitive part of the site.
NE coastal slope of the Isle of Portland in 1963.
Although neither an adequate desk study nor an appre-
ciation of the geomorphological setting were made, Classification of mass movements
the site was reported as acceptable. Reference to the
standard history of Dorset (Hutchins 186173), would To help in reading the ground, suitable frameworks need
have revealed that in February 1792 the site area was to be in place. Classifications, which are needed to order
involved in a coastal landslide over 500 m broad and the subject and to provide an agreed terminology
extending 2 km along the coast, which sank 20 m at its to facilitate inter-communication, contribute to these.
rear and heaved up the sea bed. Inherent diculties include whether to accept existing
A slightly later slip at Aldington, Kent, illustrates terms, even if unsatisfactory, or to introduce new ones,
the results of omitting an eective initial site appraisal whether to lump or to split and generally what degree of

reconnaissance and mapping. That of Hutchinson

(1988) may form a useful starting point.
(2) a more fundamental classification for research
purposes, embracing morphometry, material
properties, geotechnics and mechanisms, perhaps
based upon Cruden & Varnes (1996). In this, it
would seem acceptable for the terminology to
change, after an appropriate interval, to reflect
developing understanding of the mechanisms
(3) a geotechnical classification. That of Skempton
& Hutchinson (1969) is aimed principally at
landslides involving shearing in clays, but might
eventually be extended to other types of mass
movements on slopes.
Fig. 3. Comparison of 1906 and 1938 O.S. maps at The most eective way forward may be to try to
Shakespeare Colliery, Kent. combine the best elements, observations and insights of
the main classifications by applying an expert systems
detail to use. Classifications of rocks and soils, discon- approach to an up-dated and improved database.
tinuities, weathering, etc., are given, for example, by
Fookes (1997). Other classifications also relevant here,
are those for both mass movements involving sinking The influence line approach
of the ground and for mass movements on slopes.
Reading the ground also involves appreciating how it
Discussion is confined to the latter.
will respond to being modified by cuts and fills. The
The predominantly morphological classification of
influence line approach, based on a principle used in
Varnes (1978) has enjoyed wide acceptance and has been
structural engineering, provides a very rapid and
built upon by Cruden & Varnes (1996). In future work,
convenient method for indicating the stabilizing and
it may be advantageous to introduce more than one rock
destabilizing positioning of cuts and fills on unstable
type and to refine the definitions of soil and debris. The
ground in relation to the morphology of any slip
propriety of using spread as a component of the Varnes
surfaces present (Hutchinson 1977, 1983a, 1984). Even
matrix, when all slides spread (i.e. the index of tenuity,
where the locations of these surfaces can only be roughly
of Crozier (1973) is always above unity), should also be
estimated, as in the early stages of a site appraisal,
the approach can give some useful guidance. Inherent in
Observations of deep-seated movements aecting
the approach are the mechanisms of undrained load-
mesas are increasing. These aect plateaux behind the
ing (Hutchinson & Bhandari 1971) and undrained
rear scarps of landslides, and produce reactivated faults,
unloading (Vaughan & Walbancke 1973).
grabens, scarps, and opened joints (in Northern
The drained and undrained influence lines for a
Apennines, Cancelli & Pellegrini 1987; Isle of Portland,
complete single landslide, with a known slip surface,
Brunsden et al. 1996; and South Wales, Donnelly et al.
inclined into the slope at the toe, indicate the eects on
2000a). Mechanisms are unclear as yet, but may involve
the overall stability of the slide of any superimposed
stress relief, sagging and squeezing and, in South Wales,
cuts or fills under undrained and drained conditions
some degree of mining subsidence. These phenomena
(Case SiS, Fig. 4a, b). They also define the drained and
clearly dier from the rock and earth spreads of Cruden
undrained Neutral Points, Nd and Nu, where corre-
& Varnes (1996) and Crozier (1986) and their classifi-
sponding cuts or fills have no eect on slide stability.
cation and terminology need careful consideration. The
These points are located, respectively, where the slip
description of the South Welsh examples as lateral
surface is inclined valleywards at an angle of  mob and
spreading (Donnelly, et al. 2000a) is likely to lead to
where it is horizontal. They divide the slide into three
important zones: Zone H, between the rear scarp and
For the future, it appears that three classifications of
the drained Neutral Point; Zone M, between the
mass movements on slopes may be needed:
drained and the undrained Neutral Points; and Zone T,
(1) a mainly morphological classification, preferably between the undrained Neutral Point and the slide toe.
with unchanging terms, reflecting as far as possible While changing nothing in principle, it is helpful to
a consensus of views and based essentially on the distinguish the three dierent natural cases of single
interrelations between the morphology of the fail- landslides shown on Figure 4 and listed below. Complex
ure surfaces and that of the ground surface. This landslides, consisting of several slide units, form a fourth
classification would form a basic tool for field case.

Fig. 4. The Influence Line approach: (a) Case SiS; (b) Influence Lines (diagrammatic); (c) Case GoS; (d) Case SoS.

Single landslides Case SoS (Fig. 4d) (toe slip steeply out of slope),
Case SiS (Fig. 4a) (toe slip into slope) with the with  positive but > mob, e.g. Joss Bay failure
inclination, , of the emerging slip surface at toe (Hutchinson 1972).
negative, e.g. Waltons Wood (Early & Skempton
1972) (Fig. 5);
Case GoS (Fig. 4c) (toe slip gently out of slope), with Complex landslides
 positive, but < mob, e.g. River Beas slide (Henkel Case Com (Fig. 2 of Hutchinson 1984), e.g. the Taren
& Yudhbir 1966); Slip (Hinch & Fookes 1989).

Fig. 5. Cross section of Waltons Wood landslide, Stas

(after Early & Skempton 1972).

For the three single landslide cases, the simple, but

important precepts for proper cutting and filling are
indicated on Figure 4. For complex landslides, made up Fig. 6. Cross section of Cameo Slide, Colorado (Holtz &
of several slide units, earthworks should be restricted to Schuster 1996), with assumed piezometric line and Neutral
fills at the extreme toe and/or cuts at the extreme head of Points added (acknowledgements to Transportation Research
the slides, and avoided at intermediate positions, where Board, USA).
they will have a mixture of deleterious and beneficial
eects. should be limited to a position as high as feasible in the
As shown by the asymmetry of the influence lines, head area. For first-time slides, the shifts of critical
corrective fills at slide toes (where stress conditions circular failure surfaces under normal loading and
approximate to passive) are generally more eective and unloading are found to be more vertical than horizontal
economical than cuts at their heads (where active con- (D. J. Petley pers. comm.), so even there the approach
ditions obtain), particularly in Case SiS. Correspond- may provide approximate guidance.
ingly, although toe slip surfaces dipping into the slope The influence line approach was developed in
are less favourable to sliding than in cases where these response to the problems of stabilizing the Taren Slip,
dip out of the slope, where failures do occur under South Wales (Hinch & Fookes 1969), and was first
the former conditions, which is not uncommon, their applied there, successfully, in the 1970s. Where the
stability is particularly sensitive to unloading in or near actual or approximate slip surfaces are known, it allows
the toe area by man or nature. Thus, in Cases SiS and very rapid qualitative or semi-quantitative checks to be
GoS, flattening a slope by man-made excavation or made on the ecacy of stabilization proposals involving
natural mass movement can destabilize it (Hutchinson cuts and fills. On one recent project, this approach
1983b, 1984, 1987). showed that the proposed design changes in ground
While these precepts are conveniently formalized and profile were actually damaging to stability, the calcu-
summarized by the influence line approach, their essence lated improvements depending entirely on the massive
has, of course, long been attainable (though much drainage proposed. In another case, the stabilization of
less conveniently and rapidly) through a combination the Cameo slide, Colorado (Baker & Marshall 1958;
of conventional stability analyses and engineering Gedney & Weber 1978; Holz & Schuster 1996), addition
judgement. of the undrained and approximate drained Neutral
Despite its convenience, speed and simplicity, the Points to the cross-section (Fig. 6) shows immediately
influence line approach appears to be underused. This that the original analyses were made in terms of total
may be because engineers are concerned that the lo- stresses, the norm at that time. The conclusion that it
cations of the critical failure surfaces may tend to shift as was better to remove mass B than mass A was correct,
a result of the cuts and fills applied (Hutchinson 1984). but for the ruling long-term situation, the changes in
The likelihood of this happening is generally negligible factor of safety F given are naturally inappropriate.
in slides on pre-existing slip surfaces, which form the With the assumed piezometric surface shown,
overwhelming majority of stability problems in Britain sat=22 kN/m3 and c r=0, r is back-calculated to be
and much of Europe, because of the marked contrast in about 24 for an F of unity. On these assumptions, the
shear strength between the failure surface and the sur- changes in long-term F, using Bishops method, are
rounding strata. Furthermore, as shown later, most of calculated to be around 15% for the removal of mass
these stability problems have resulted, not from an A alone and +10% for the removal of mass B alone.
inaccuracy of a few metres in locating the positions of That the rapid insights provided by the influence line
the Neutral Points, but from failure to follow the most approach can be valuable even in the early stages of site
fundamental precepts, that fills should be restricted to appraisal, may be illustrated by revisiting the Waltons
the toe area, in as low a position as feasible, while cuts Wood slide, Stas (Early & Skempton 1972) (Fig. 5).

There the natural slope was already unstable, the the Pennant Sandstone, are associated with the largest
motorway centreline pegs having moved downslope by proportion of slope failures (Jennings & Siddle 1998).
1.5 m on a width of about 200 m in the period 1958 to The slide-prone nature of the shales and marls associ-
early 1961(c. 600 mm/a, dismissed as creep). The influ- ated with the Rhondda No. 2 Seam was recognized by
ence line approach indicates that the rapid placing of the Knox (1928) and by Evans (1928). In the Cotswolds, a
motorway bank in Zone M, with insucient buttressing similar slide-prone association exists where the Upper
in Zones T and T , would cause failure, as indeed Fullers Earth is overlain by the aquifer of the Great
happened a month after bank filling started in October Oolite (Higginbottom & Fookes 1970; Denness 1972). In
1961; also that moving the roadline downslope to the the London Basin, shallow slips in the London Clay just
position of the eventual remedial toe weighting (i.e. in below its contact with the water-bearing Claygate Beds
Zones T and T ) would have enabled the project to are common (Denness & Riddols 1976).
have been completed successfully using about half the Slide-prone horizons resulting predominantly from
ultimate volume of fill. sedimentological/mechanical variations within the Gault
clay are reported by Bromhead et al. (1991) and by
Hutchinson (1995a). In the former case, in the Under-
Vocabulary for reading the ground cli of the Isle of Wight, the horizon is 15 to 18 m above
the base of the Gault. In the latter case, the five main old
A brief review is given, chiefly from a NW European,
landslips flanking the Channel Tunnel terminal behind
formerly cold climate perspective, of some bedrock and
Folkestone, were found to be seated in a common band
drift features which can impinge upon the construction
within Zone XI of the Gault, 21 to 27 m above its
and performance of engineering projects. The choice of
base. The inter-relationships of these horizons could be
features is informed to some extent by the philosophy of
explored further.
terrain evaluation, introduced in the 1950s and 1960s
Tephra layers within a sedimentary sequence can
(see review by Dearman 1991). This is based on the
weather to form smectite-rich clays with very low  r
belief that, particularly within a single climatic zone,
values, leading to associated landslide problems, for
characteristic features of the landscape may be recog-
example at Pelton, Oregon (Cornforth & Vessely 1992).
nized, of similar morphology, geology and vegetational
associations, which are repetitive. Then, if the engineer-
ing geomorphology and geology of one such landform
are understood, particularly with the help of engineering
case records, it is often reasonable to assume that those
Central and Western Europe have been aected by three
of related landforms will be similar.
main orogenic episodes, the Caledonian, about 450
400 Ma ago, the Variscan, around 300280 Ma ago, and
1. Bedrock (solid) geology: pre-Quaternary the Alpine, mainly between about 40 and 25 Ma and still
continuing. These events have had profound eects on
While bedrock geology clearly plays a fundamental role, the engineering properties of the rocks aected and
it is evidently not feasible to deal with it comprehen- dominate the pattern of discontinuities and disruption at
sively here. Accordingly, mention is restricted to two large and small scales. The locations and trends of the
features which impinge particularly strongly on the corresponding fronts in and around Britain are shown
present-day reading of the ground, i.e. lithology and in Figure 7 (Zeigler 1982). In places superposition of
tectonics. dierent phases of movement has taken place. Knowl-
edge of these patterns can provide useful indications to
Lithology the engineering geologist as to the nature of the discon-
tinuities to be expected on a particular site (Harris et al.
Leaving aside soluble strata such as rock salt and 1996; Fookes et al. 2000).
calcareous rocks, which often lead to considerable The more important eects of these tectonic move-
ground subsidence and water retention problems, ments in the present context are the creation of persist-
certain sedimentary beds, chiefly the mudrocks, can be ent discontinuities by tension, as in joints, or by
recognized which are important in a slope instability shearing. The two main manifestations of the latter are
context, forming weaker, slide-prone horizons. These faulting and flexural slip.
generally depend partly on the geo-mechanical proper-
ties of the weak layer itself and partly on associated Faulting. Faulting is well known in principle and is often
unfavourable hydrogeological conditions. mappable, though an undetected fault contributed to the
Examples of both these features are common in the failure of the Malpasset arch dam in France in 1959
South Wales coalfield where, in the Upper Coal (Londe 1987). Numerous faults and minor flexures in
Measures, the Rhondda Nos. 1 and 2 Seams and their the London Basin, associated chiefly with the Alpine
underlying seatearths, overlain by sandstone aquifers of orogeny (some inherited from the Variscan) have

Fig. 7. Main orogenic fronts in Britain (after Zeigler 1982) with some related cases of flexural slip in southern Britain:
1=Heathrow, 2=Folkestone, 3=M4, Cardi, 4=Aberystwyth.

sometimes aected tunnel construction. In other cases, and the rock avalanche at Tal-y-llyn, described later, in
the failure surface of a landslide exploits in part an the southwesterly continuation of this, exemplify such
associated fault, such as in the opening out of the features.
Cofton Tunnel, Worcestershire (McCallum 1931) and in
the rear scarp of the Taren slip, Mid-Glamorganshire, Flexural slip. Flexural slip has received less attention
which follows the Kilkenny Fault (Woodland & Evans than faulting and, except in strongly folded situations as
1964). The western scarp of the Godrer-graig landslide, first explored geotechnically at the Mangla Dam (Binnie
West Glamorgan, follows a NE trending normal fault et al.1967), its importance has generally been under-
(Siddle 2000). These three faults are probably associated rated. Fell et al. (1988) and Hutchinson (1988) drew
with the Variscan orogeny. Other examples are given by attention to this situation and presented case records of
Donnelly et al. (2000b). Very extensive faulting during flexural slip shears at residual strength in beds dipping at
the Caledonian orogeny, exploited much later by glacial only about 1 to 4. Theoretical models, supported by
and fluvial erosion, has contributed greatly to the estab- case records, were developed by Hutchinson (1988,
lishment of the strong grain of NW Britain and doubt- 1995b). An updated summary plot for the incidence of
less also to much instability of the valley sides. The flexural slip shears is given in Figure 8. This illustrates
U-shaped valley following the Bala fault in north Wales the power of this mechanism for generating pre-existing

2. Superficial (drift) geology: Quaternary

The remarkable climatic fluctuations of the Quaternary
over the past two million years have had a major impact
on much of the globe, including Britain, and many of
our earthworks problems spring from the legacy of
this. In particular, the ground freezing associated with
the cold periods (the former depth of permafrost
(Hutchinson 1991a) has surprisingly received little atten-
tion) and the subsequent thawing have had profound
eects on the strength and nature of the near-surface
rocks and the landforms, as have the erosion and
deposition associated with the spread and decay of
ice-sheets and glaciers and with periglacial activity.
Further important features and processes are linked to
the related sea-level fluctuations and crustal movements.
Reviews of the associated geology and geomorphology
are given by Washburn (1979), Harris (1987), Eyles
(1983), Ballantyne & Harris (1994) and Ehlers &
Gibbard (1991).
Fig. 8. Theoretical plot of incidence of flexural slip shears, in A simplified summary of the main climatic events of
terms of bed thickness and dip, compared to case records the Quaternary in Britain of concern to engineers is
(after Hutchinson 1995b, with cases 14 above added). given in Figure 9 and the engineering significance of
Dotted area predicted to be free from residual shears. relict periglacial and extraglacial features in Britain is
reviewed by Hutchinson (1991a, 1992). Of these, the
following are particularly important: the periglacial
shears and its very widespread nature. Such shears are solifluction of clayey materials*, periglacial and
particularly dangerous in a site investigation context as Post-glacial landslides and rockfalls, superficial valley
they commonly have little or no surface expression. As a disturbances* (including cambering and valley bulging),
broad generalization, flexural slip features are likely to enhanced fluvial erosion (including buried valleys and
be most common towards the margins of the tectonic anomalies beneath river terraces), marine erosion
zones where deformations tend to be more ductile. In (including reactivation of coastal landslides), glacial
the central parts of such zones, heat and pressure will overflow and marginal channels and pro-glacial lake
tend to obliterate the primary bedding features by deposits. To these must be added the features of glacial
metamorphic changes and generate fresh, secondary and fluvio-glacial erosion and deposition. The items
discontinuities such as cleavage. starred, although of crucial significance, are not treated
Examples of flexural shears in southern Britain are further here as they have been fully discussed in the
located on Figure 7 and plotted on Figure 8. Associated above references and by Skempton et al. (1991) and
with the Alpine folding are those (1) described by Spink (1991). Weathering, both Quaternary and pre-
Chandler et al. (1998) & Chandler (2000) in the London Quaternary, is covered by Higginbottom & Fookes
Clay Formation near Heathrow, with dip angles of a few (1970).
degrees. Others (2) are described by Warren & Palmer The over-riding importance of the Quaternary in
(2000) in the Gault behind Folkestone Warren, particu- engineering geology and site appraisal, which also
larly just above the more competent glauconitic beds, emerges from the work of Fookes et al. (2000), can
Bed XII and Bed I, where the dip is around 1. Flexural hardly be over-emphasized.
slip shears, suggested here to have originated through
the Variscan deformations, were discovered in folded
Devonian marls north of Cardi (3) during earthworks Hydrogeological features
for the M4 Motorway. They gave rise to considerable
stability problems during construction (Newbery & Such features are very pervasive, piezometric levels
Baker 1981). Good examples of flexural slip shears aecting virtually all slopes. The threshold slopes of
associated with the Caledonian orogeny are exhibited Carson & Petley (1970) provide an example. Instability
(4) in the coastal exposures of the folded Silurian is frequently associated with groundwater emergence in
Aberystwyth Grits Formation in Cardigan Bay (Dobson seepage faces, springs and by alimentation from a water-
et al. 1995). Further examples, from folded beds of bearing cap-rock, as noted earlier. Seepage erosion,
all ages, exist in the literature and many more await especially in silts and fine sands leads to sliding, piping
discovery. and collapse (Ward 1948). Artesian conditions are often

Fig. 9. Outline of main climatic events and associated stratigraphy for the mid- to late-Quaternary: oceanic and terrestrial
records (partly after Bowen et al. 1986).

present at the foot of high slopes. They are sometimes moval of lateral support and the strata there may
revealed by sand/silt volcanoes in drainage ditches (e.g., already have been weakened by deep freeze-thaw and
Taren slide, South Wales, in winters of the early 1970s) valley bulging (Hutchinson 1991a), by rebound
or by the presence of relict, open-system pingos (Watson (Matheson & Thomson 1973) and by high groundwater
& Watson 1972). Negative pore-water pressures, pressures.
especially in areas of high Soil Moisture Deficit, have Various types of erosion of engineering geological
significant stabilizing eects on clay slopes (Hutchinson significance are outlined below.
& Gostelow 1976). Such slopes at Southend, Essex, are
described subsequently.
Glacial and glaciofluvial erosion. Past glacial erosion
has had profound eects in parts of Britain. Ice sheets
Erosional features have caused significant areal erosion, particularly on
mudrocks and the chalk, as attested by the huge
General. Erosion is the main agent of landscape degra- volumes of chalk in the tills of Suolk and Essex.
dation and is thus an important element here. It can lead Clayton (2000) estimates the mean depth of erosion of
to instability by steepening and undermining and leave these soft rocks by the Anglian ice advance to have
unexpected, potentially hazardous boundaries between been 74 m. This gives a rate of glacial erosion during
superficial and solid strata. Ice, armoured by debris, and the period of Anglian activity of 3000 to 4000 mm/ka,
water (and wind) carrying sediments, are the most or 167 mm/ka if calculated as an average rate over the
important erosion agents. Those involving ice and water succeeding period. Valley glaciers through more intense
are particularly eective at the foot of slopes and in local erosion have led to massive unloading of slope
valley bottoms, where the in situ stress conditions, toes by both downward and lateral erosion to form
approximating to passive, are most sensitive to a re- U-shaped valleys, often exploiting major fault lines.

Fig. 11. Glacial over-deepening of Permo-Carboniferous age

in SW Australia (after Fairbridge 1952).

scour in belts of mica-schist within a granite-gneiss

region, formed a series of hollows up to 1000 m deep
and 10 to 50 km in plan. These are floored by tillite
which is overlain by Permian coal deposits.
In some Pleistocene cases, irregular narrow rock
gorges, presumed to have been cut by subglacial water
under high pressure, extend beneath the floors of
glacially overdeepened valleys. Several Alpine examples,
encountered during dam construction, are given by
Fig. 10. Glacial over-deepening: (a) Long profile of Loch
Gignoux and Barbier (1955). Tunnel valleys are cognate
Morar (after Eyles 1983); Sectional elevations of (b) features aecting the softer rocks and drift deposits
Lotschberg Tunnel & (c) Old St Gotthard Tunnel, of the previously glaciated areas of Poland, north
Switzerland (after von Moos 1953). Germany, Denmark, East Anglia, East Yorkshire
(Woodland 1970; Cox 1985; Catt 1991; Ehlers &
Gibbard 1991), the Shropshire-Staordshire border
Rockfalls then commonly followed de-glaciation, as at (Hamblin 1986), the North Sea Basin (Balson & Jeery
Tal-y-llyn, North Wales, described below. The clearest 1991) and the southern Irish Sea Basin (Eyles & McCabe
evidence of this is from northwestern Scotland, where 1991). These are also characterized by irregular long
the majority of over 100 rock slope failures considered profiles with reverse gradients, depths up to 250 m or
to have occurred between 10 000 and 5000 years ago more and steep-sided form.
are within the limits of the glacial advance and erosion
associated with the Loch Lomond Stadial (Fig. 9) Fluvial erosion. Although concentrated in river valleys,
(Smith 1984). fluvial processes also operate areally. Holmes (1965)
The long profiles of rivers are normally concave estimates the global average rate of fluvial denudation
upward, not descending below the lowest relevant base- for the geological past to be of the order of 10 mm/ka
level. In glaciated valleys, by contrast, the long profile is with contemporary rates, partly due to human inter-
often irregular and commonly carried well below base ference, far higher than this. The overall rate of lowering
level by glacial scour (overdeepening). This is well of the ground surface in Britain by rain and rivers is
developed in earlier glaciated areas in Scotland (Fig. estimated by Clayton (1996, 1997) to range between
10a). In Switzerland, partly because of a then pre- 20 and 120 mm/ka and rates of valley incision to be
vailing geological scepticism about glacial erosion, the several times greater, about 3 for Suolk and 4 for
Lotschberg Tunnel ran into the glacially overdeepened Northumberland. These matters and glacial erosion,
Gasterntal in July, 1908, at a point 190 m below valley discussed above, can be relevant to the long-term safety
floor level. Twenty five miners were killed by the inrush of buried toxic wastes.
of water-bearing drift and alluvium (Fig. 10b). The Scour hollows, some exhibiting diapirism, believed to
warning given by a cold spring (45 l/sec, at 6C, cf. 4.8C be associated with the decay phases of cold periods of
in Gasterntal torrent) 40 m before the break-in went the Pleistocene, with the rivers swollen by meltwaters,
unheeded. Investigations made in 194144 showed that have been reported from beneath the terraces of the
the original St Gotthard Tunnel, inaugurated in 1881, former rivers Thames and Wey (Berry 1979; Hutchinson
narrowly escaped a similar catastrophe involving a then 1980, 1991a). These features, infilled by water-bearing
unknown basin 280 m deep beneath Andermatt (von drift and alluvium, have depths up to 30 m or so below
Moos 1953) (Fig. 10c). the general bench level of the London Clay Formation
The above examples are all associated with the and have constituted some severe problems for tunnels
Pleistocene glaciations. A related case from glaciation in and deep foundations.
the PermoCarboniferous of southwestern Australia is Sedimentation rather than erosion may be expected in
described by Fairbridge (1952) (Fig. 11). There, glacial the lower reaches of rivers. Nevertheless, an interesting

Fig. 13. Cross section of buried valley in the Orwell estuary

(after Fletcher & Nicholls 1984).

example from the River Orwell, extending down to 45 m

below present sea-level, is given by Fletcher & Nicholls
1984 (Fig. 13). The enhanced fluvial erosion derives
partly from the associated rejuvenation of flow and
probably also from its supplementation by meltwaters.
Buried valleys rarely coincide with the location of the
present river and are frequently multiple.
Former erosion associated with the buried valley of
the River Wye 3 km upstream of Monmouth, interacting
with unfavourable conditions of geological structure and
lithology, had caused major slips there (particularly
Chapel Farm and Whipping Green) more than 4 ka old.
This area is on the outside of a bend in the buried
channel in an area where sandstones and subordinate
mudstones of the Devonian Brownstones Group dip 30
riverwards. The slides, reactivated by roadworks in
1964, were translational dip-slope failures seated in the
mudstones (Early & Jordan 1985).
Although largely pre-Quaternary, the Messinian
Fig. 12. Harwich area, Essex: (a) Map, (b) Section of the salinity crisis should be mentioned here. In the late
Harwich anticline and associated rivers (Hutchinson 1995a). Miocene, northward movement of the Africa plate iso-
lated the Mediterranean from the open ocean, allowing
pattern of landsliding and chiefly lateral erosion, prob- it to desiccate and form evaporites far below the lowest
ably limited to the lower part of the tidal cycle, is found global sea-levels. As a result, the main rivers flowing into
in the Harwich area of East Anglia. Figure 12a shows the desiccated Mediterranean basin cut deep gorges,
the distribution of coastal landslides, predominantly in which filled with marine and fluvial sediments as the
the London Clay Formation, on the Rivers Stour, basin refilled. Similar events aected the Black Sea and
Orwell and Deben. The cross section of Figure 12b the Sea of Azov (Said 1981; Macdonald 1991). A seismic
shows these valleys in relation to the Harwich Anticline. section of the Nile Delta just North of Cairo shows the
The axis of this coincides with the Orwell valley, which is Eonile Canyon there (probably early Pliocene, and
symmetrical and has similar numbers of landslides on longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon) to be about
both of its banks. The Stour and Deben valleys, how- 2.5 km deep (Bentz & Hughes 1981) (Fig. 14a). Even
ever, are located respectively on the SW and NE limbs of at the site of the Aswan High Dam, over 1000 km
that fold, are each asymmetrical with their steeper sides upstream, the engineers were surprised to find a buried
away from the anticlinal axis, and have coastal land- channel in the gneissic, schistose and granitic bed-rock
slides concentrated on these. At low tide continuous extending to 220 m below river bed level (Abou Wafa
cementstone bands within the London Clay Formation 1961) (Fig. 14b).
may be seen, with dips of a few degrees, as indicated on
Figure 12b. These encourage a process of down-dip Fluvial erosion related to the overflow of proglacial lakes.
erosion (uniclinal shifting) which is believed to explain Contemporary fluvial erosion in Britain is strongest in
the above features (Hutchinson 1995a). rivers diverted in the Late Quaternary, such as the River
Severn. This used to discharge northwards to the Irish
Fluvial erosion associated with lowered base levels. Relict Sea, with the high ridge in the Ironbridge area forming
buried valleys, cut towards lowered base levels during the watershed between the Dee catchment and the
cold phases of the Pleistocene, are present in the lower streams flowing south into the Bristol Channel. During
reaches of most British rivers (Anderson 1974). Those of the maximum of the Devensian, however, the combined
the River Thames are described by Jones (1981). An Welsh and Irish Sea ice sheets dammed this northern

Fig. 14. Cross sections of buried gorge of River Nile: (a)

35 km N of Cairo, 140 km above river mouth (after Bentz &
Hughes 1981), (b) at Aswan High Dam, 1210 km above
mouth (after Abou Wafa 1961). Fig. 15. Approximate extent of proglacial Lake Lapworth
(after Wills 1924).

route and over-rode the watershed. It is likely that at this

stage the eventual Ironbridge Gorge was initiated by the average rate of valley downcutting there over this
subglacial meltwater erosion. Then, as the ice retreated period has been about 760 mm/ka. Values immediately
north of the watershed, impounded meltwaters formed a following overtopping would have been higher.
series of pro-glacial lakes, eventually combining to form A second example of strong erosion caused by the
Lake Lapworth, which overflowed the watershed, by overflowing of a pro-glacial lake is provided by
adopting and deepening the Ironbridge Gorge, which the Fosse Dangeard in the English Channel. During the
continues to be the course of the Post-glacial River maximum of the Anglian glaciation a large pro-glacial
Severn (Wills 1924; Worsley 1970, 1991). lake, fed by meltwater, the Rhine and the Thames, was
Figures 15 & 16 show respectively an approximate impounded in the southern North Sea between the ice
plan of part of Lake Lapworth and the Ironbridge front to the north and the unbreached Weald-Artois
Gorge and the present long profile of the Severn from anticline to the SE. The overspilling of the latter by this
Shrewsbury, through the former Lake Lapworth and the lake initiated the Dover Strait (Bridgland & Gibbard
Ironbridge Gorge down to the confluence with the River 1997). This process led to severe scour in the bed of
Teme. Of interest are the remaining marked steepening the English Channel downstream, forming the Fosse
of the river bed and, more clearly, the river surface Dangeard (Fig. 18a), up to 85 m deep and filled by
profiles through the gorge, the great concentration of superficial sediments. Together with other palaeovalleys,
historical landslides and doubtless many earlier ones in this feature represented a major potential hazard to the
the chiefly Upper Carboniferous strata there, and the Channel Tunnel, the alignment of which was adjusted
suggestion of a scour hollow in the river bed just accordingly. The interrelation of the tunnel and the
downstream of the gorge. Fosse Dangeard is shown in Fig. 18b (Varley et al.
The Main Terrace of the Severn originates in the 1996b).
River Worfe to the east (Fig. 15), joining the Severn
some kilometres downstream of the gorge outlet. The Marine erosion. Marine erosion on the clis of Britain
earliest terrace of the Severn to be traced through the generally recommenced about 8000 to 5000 years as
Ironbridge Gorge is the Worcester Terrace. Wills (1948) result of the Holocene recovery of sea-levels. This
long profiles of the Severn terraces in the Ironbridge resulted in the reactivation of major old coastal land-
area (Fig. 17) indicate that the present alluvium lies up slides that had survived the Devensian (Hutchinson
to about 15.2 m below the Worcester Terrace. If the age 1991b). Marine erosion is the strongest form of erosion
of the latter is taken as 20 ka (P. Worsley pers comm.), currently active in Britain, resulting in average recession

Fig. 16. Long profile of R. Severn, Shrewsbury to R. Teme confluence (acknowledgements to Environment Agency for bed, river
and bank profiles), plus details of instability in Ironbridge Gorge.

Fig. 17. Past and present thalwegs of the Severn in relation to the Ironbridge Gorge and Glacial Lakes Coalbrookdale, Buildwas
and Lapworth (after Wills 1948).

rates of several metres/year in the softer deposits. The The response to strong and medium erosion in the
Zenkovich (1967) model (Fig. 19) is recalled and the London Clay Formation and in the Chalk, including
primacy of shore platform erosion, which is followed chalk flows, has been described by Hutchinson (1973,
by notching and landsliding of clis (Hutchinson 1988). An inherent characteristic of coastal slides is their
1986). This has important implications for coast defence periodicity which, if conditions remain uniform, may
strategies. Earlier hard defences at the cli foot can exhibit some regularity. The length of such a landslide
now be seen to have been inappropriate in the long- cycle naturally tends to increase with the resistance of
term, being inevitably undermined by shore platform the rocks to marine erosion. This is illustrated by the
lowering. The modern use of soft revetments in such following cases. The recurring deep-seated rotational
locations is welcome. Logic points to prevention of slides in the London Clay Formation at Warden Point,
shore platform lowering as a desirable aim. This is very Isle of Sheppey, exhibit a cycle which is repeated every
dicult to accomplish however. The use of oshore 30 to 40 years. In the clis of often sandy glacial
breakwaters is to some extent a step in that direction. deposits in Norfolk, the slide of 17th May 1962 between

Fig. 20. Periodicity of major landslides at Folkestone Warren

related to dates of extension of the Folkestone West Pier.

Fig. 18. Fosse Dangeard; (a) Plan (after Birch & Griths
1996), (b) Section showing relation to the Channel Tunnel
(after Varley et al. 1996b).

Fig. 19. Model relating shore platform lowering and cli

retreat (after Zenkovich 1967). Fig. 21. Dounreay, Caithness. General, oblique air view of
coastline by the Shaft looking south-east, taken 1.9.97
Cromer and Overstrand followed a similar one in the (acknowledgements to UKAEA).
same position on 22nd October 1947, but no regular
cycle is evident because of the variability of the strata The support provided by morphology when faced by
(Hutchinson 1976). In the Undercli of the Isle of unfamiliar problems is illustrated by a recent study of
Wight, sliding involving alternations of sti Cretaceous coast erosion at Dounreay, Caithness (Hutchinson et al.
clays with sandstones and very hard chert beds was in press). The brief was to assess the length of time
inferred very roughly by Hutchinson (1991b) to have a before a 4.5 m diameter, 65 m deep vertical shaft con-
cycle length of up to around 6000 years. The 19-year taining radioactive waste, sited 12 to 13 m landward of
cycle of major landsliding at Folkestone Warren in 1877, the cli edge, would be breached by coast erosion (Fig.
1896 and 1915, noted by Terzaghi (1950), has been 21). The 10 to 15 m high clis consist of the Devonian
shown by Hutchinson et al. (1980) to have been a Caithness Flags, dipping seaward at around 11, over-
response to interruption of the littoral drift by the lain by superficials and fill. Despite the complexity
construction of extensions to the west pier of Folkestone of the coast and shore platform, some simple, largely
harbour. This is shown clearly by Figure 20. morphological observations led to a solution:

Fig. 22. Dounreay, Caithness: (a) Cli profile with

superficials beyond wave reach, (b) Cli profile with
superficials within wave reach.

(1) That the clis should be considered as a two-layer,

laterally variable system of superficials over rock.
(2) That a cli profile with a change of slope incli-
nation, but no step, at the junction of rock and
superficials (Fig. 22a) indicated that this junc-
tion was above the level reached by storm waves
(wave-clawing level) and that the superficials were
retreating at essentially the same rate as the rock.
(3) That a cli profile with a bare ledge at the
superficials/rock junction (Fig. 22b) indicated that
this was below wave-clawing level and therefore
that the superficials were retreating faster than the Fig. 23. Dounreay, Caithness. Model of slot development
rock. (Hutchinson et al. in press).
(4) That for future predictions, the above levels and
rates of erosion must be adjusted in line with aeoloian deposits. As noted earlier, the very important
the estimated sea-level rise (estimated initially at engineering geological problems associated with clayey
5 mm/a). head are covered elsewhere. Here, two other significant
The recent rates of superficials recession, SR, related depositional features, namely proglacial lake deposits
to wave clawing level, were obtained from a comparison and landslide dams, are considered.
between new surveys and that of the 1965, 1:2500 O.S.
Sheet. The gross rates of Flagstones recession, FR, were Proglacial lake deposits. Proglacial lakes were a common
too small to be reflected by such surveys and more feature of the decay of the various phases of ice sheets
complex, being controlled, by the rate of slot formation and valley glaciers, especially in the vicinity of the glacial
(Fig. 23). This rate would have been extremely dicult margins and within the formerly glaciated areas. Many
to assess, had not the micro-morphology of the over- of these lakes were very large, with inferred areas of up
hanging roofs of the slots included small, crater-like to several thousand km2. The Kendall (1902) model for
weathering features known as tafoni (Fig. 24). As these their formation by ice-damming is still often applicable,
have known rates of deepening, of the order of 1 mm/a though Bowens cautionary remarks (1967), particularly
(Sunamura 1992), a range of rates for slot deepening and with regard to erroneous reconstructions of ice margins,
thus Flagstones recession could be inferred. It was are noted. Such lakes are known from each of the last
concluded that the shaft will be exposed by cli recession three glaciations (Jones & Keen 1993), for example the
in about 165 to 230 years on pessimistic assumptions advancing Anglian ice formed ice-dammed lakes in the
(Fig. 25) and in 210 to 330 years on average ones. Such vicinity of St Albans and the large Thames-Rhine lake in
exposure will occur before the shaft is flooded by rising the southern North Sea (Bridgland & Gibbard 1997);
sea-levels. during a following glacial period (possibly associated
with Oxygen Isotope Stage 6, Fig. 9) Lake Haw, just
north of the Chard Gap, and Lake Harrison, in the
Depositional features Hinckley-Stratford area, are believed to have been
among those impounded; while associated with the
Devensian ice of the latest glacial period were a number
General. Quaternary deposition in cold or formerly cold of proglacial lakes, such as Lakes Pickering, Humber
climates comprises principally; fluvial and glaciofluvial and Fenland, Lake Lapworth and its forerunners and
deposits, in rivers, lakes and seas; glacial deposits, Lake Teifi and related lakes trapped in the estuaries of
comprising moraines, kames, tills and outwash; peri- west Wales by the Irish Sea ice (Fletcher & Siddle 1998).
glacial deposits, of granular and clayey head; and Where the climatic conditions are suitable, stilling of

Fig. 24. Dounreay, Caithness. Slot with tafoni under overhang (photo JNH). Vertical stick c. 0.5 m long.

longevity or otherwise, and secondary eects and their

mitigation are discussed by Schuster & Costa (1986).
The Mayunmarca landslide and its dam (Hutchinson
& Kojan 1975), which partially breached after 44 days,
illustrates these and other features; the appreciable
run-up of the debris up the opposite valley side, the
nature of the dam material, the growth of the dammed
lake upstream accompanied by impounding failures, the
Fig. 25. Dounreay, Caithness. Development of recession overtopping and rapid breaching causing draw-down
profiles for W face of Shaft, pessimistic assumptions, Section failures around the temporary lake and the great
CC (Hutchinson et al. in press).
flood-wave discharged from the breach (Fig. 27), caus-
ing damage by deposition, erosion and flooding for
the lakes by winter freezing allows the clay fraction of hundreds of kilometres downstream.
the sediments to separate out, with the consequent As there are generally no eye witnesses to such events,
formation of laminated and varved silt and clays. Such the speed of the dam-forming landslide is dicult to
deposits are well known for their characteristic geotech- determine. In some cases, this can be inferred from the
nical problems. These include low shear strength and super-elevation of the moving debris or from its impact
slope stability problems, eects of highly anisotropic and run-up on the opposite valley side. Figure 28a, b
permeability, seepage erosion and back-sapping, show details of the latter for the Mayunmarca
sampling and testing diculties (Rowe 1972; Vaughan sturzstrom, Peru. Although the mechanics are complex,
1965) and deep piping leading to surface collapse a simple energy balance can be applied to the
(authors files). Kenney (1976) gives a detailed review of up-running debris mass, of initial upslope-directed
the formation and geotechnical properties of varved velocity, vA, which slides up the slope AB, of inclination
soils formed in pro-glacial lakes. , and comes to rest at B. The friction angle between the
mass and the slope is and pore-water pressures are
Landslide dams. Landslide dams are common in assumed to be zero. Then:
glaciated mountain areas. Where unbreached or only
partly breached, they form steps in the long profile of
the river with alluvium trapped upstream of each. For Mayunmarca, taking h=110 m, a=35 and =30,
Figure 26a illustrates this for the Doubs River in France vA is thus estimated to be 62.8 m/sec. For no friction,
(Buxtorf 1922) and Figure 26b for the Tal-y-llyn land- vA=(2 gh)m. Putting vA=62.8 m/sec yields a new h value
slide dam in North Wales. Types of landslide dam, their of 201 m, which may represent a crude estimate of the

Fig. 28. Mayunmarca slide, Peru: (a) Photograph (JNH)

showing run-up and fall-back of debris at toe, (b) Detailed
Fig. 26. Long profiles of: (a) Doubs River, France (after section of run-up and fall-back.
Buxtorf 1922), (b) Afon Dysynni, Tal-y-llyn, N Wales.

features give an indication of the size of the mass which

ran up and slid down the 35 slope. Similar features are
reported, for example, by Davies (2000). With less
steeply inclined opposite valley slopes, or even on
steeper slopes where the slide debris provides sucient
support (Mora et al. 1993), the up-running debris tends
not to slide back.
The Post-glacial landslide dam at Tal-y-llyn, North
Wales (Fig. 29), first correctly identified by Watson
(1962), is the best example of such a feature in Britain.
The latest 1:50 000 geological map (British Geological
Survey 1995), shows the distal limit of the slide debris as
coinciding with the road along the foot of opposite
valley slope. As at Mayunmarca, however, a fall-back
Fig. 27. Mayunmarca, Peru. Maximum flood discharge trough and ridge (somewhat degraded) can be traced for
(c. 104 m3/sec.) through breached slide dam (acknowledge-
most of the kilometre long contact, indicating that the
ments to Tove Blom).
debris ran up the opposite valley slope well beyond the
mapped limit before, in large part, falling back. A
main splatter height. Caution is necessary, however, as comparison of the profiles of the fall-back troughs and
in the Nevados Huascaran avalanche unexplained high ridges at Mayunmarca after three days (Fig. 30a) and at
velocities are reported in some of the debris (Plafker & Tal-y-llyn after several thousand years (Fig. 30b) is
Ericksen 1978). shown. Preliminary run-out estimates indicate that the
At Mayunmarca, most of the up-running debris slid debris would have reached an elevation of about 170 m
back with some force, stripping o the vegetation and on this slope (O. Hungr pers. comm.), over 100 m
forming a fall-back trough and ridge in the subadjacent above the mapped limit, before falling back. Work on
slide debris (Fig. 28a, b). The dimensions of these the geodynamics and dating of this feature is continuing.

Fig. 31. Lake Sarez, Tajikistan, and the Usoi Landslide Dam
of 1911. View from right bank of lake, looking downstream to
dam. Landslide came from niche on right (acknowledgements
to J. Hanisch, BGR, Hanover).

Although landslide dams are of limited importance in

Britain, they can form a major part of consulting work
abroad, as exemplified by the great slide dam forming
Lake Sarez, Tajikistan, in the Pamirs (Fig. 31), the
assessment of which is currently one component of
the huge, internationally funded UN project, Saving the
Aral Sea (Pearce 1999). Field visits to some of the
British examples could provide a valuable introduction
to this field.

Fig. 29. Dysynni valley and Tal-y-llyn landslide dam looking

SW (acknowledgements to Committee for Aerial Photogra- Clayey abandoned cliffs and
phy, University of Cambridge). Slide came from niche on left, scarpserosional and depositional
by foot of lake.
Angle of ultimate stability. The angle of ultimate
stability, ult, against landsliding under present climatic
conditions is a basic unit of the landscape, useful in the
ensuing discussion. The available measurements are
summarized in Figure 32 and related approximately to
residual friction angles through the infinite slope analy-
sis. The simplified relations between residual friction
angle and plasticity index of Lupini et al. (1981) have
been used, with the value of r adjusted from that
corresponding to 155 kPa (their average value of eec-
tive normal stress) to that for 30 kPa (the estimated
approximate average value for ultimate slopes), as
shown on Figure 32.

Quaternary Provinces of Britain. It is helpful to divide

the country into the following five Quaternary Provinces
on the basis of their later Quaternary, glacial, periglacial
and temperate history (modified from Harris 1990, and
Foster et al. 1999):
(1) Province PPeriglaciated, but unglaciated.
(2) Province GAPGlaciated in Anglian and
Fig. 30. Comparison of fall-back profiles at: (a) Mayunmarca, (3) Province GDPGlaciated in Devensian and
after 3 days, and (b) Tal-y-llyn, after several thousand years. periglaciated.

(5) Province TTemperate, Holocene, thus un-

glaciated, unperiglaciated.
(1), (2), (3) (in part) and (5) are shown on Figure 33.
Province GLP, (4) is not discussed further here.

Abandoned clis and scarps. Discernible traits in the

morphology of clayey abandoned clis and inland scarps
on Mesozoic and Tertiary slopes in central and southern
England, in relation to their Quaternary Province (Fig.
33) (apart from the Ok Ma case), are summarized in
Table 1 and below. They are of help in deciding whether
or not a slope is abandoned or not, on its stage of
development and whether or not it is soliflucted, with the
important geotechnical consequences noted. Unless
demonstrated otherwise, all these features should be
assumed to be of low to marginal stability.

In Province T. Two cases are described. Being essentially

Post-glacial these clis have suered no significant
solifluction activity. The main features of such clis in
sti sedimentary clays are illustrated by the abandoned
cli in the London Clay Formation at Hadleigh, Essex
(Hutchinson & Gostelow 1976) (Fig. 34 & Table 1).
Fig. 32. Plot of ultimate angle of stability against P.I. (1) They are characteristically bilinear in profile (tri-
linear if the crest scarp is considered) consisting of
(4) Province GLPGlaciated in Loch Lomond Stadial an upper, actively slipping and irregular degra-
and periglaciated. dation zone of inclination >ult and a lower,

Fig. 33. Quaternary Provinces of southern Britain (modified from Harris 1990, and Foster et al. 1999) and sites of landslides
considered. The whole coastline is in Province T, except where features associated with earlier Provinces are being exhumed.

Table 1. Morphology of some clayey clis and inland scarps, predominantly in southern Britain

Fig. 34. Cross section of Hadleigh abandoned cli in London Clay Formation, Essex (after Hutchinson & Gostelow 1976).

smoother and less inclined accumulation zone of as described for the London Clay Formation by
angle ]ult. Hutchinson (1973).
(2) The degradation zone declines by generally retro- At Hadleigh and other related slopes (Hutchinson
gressive successive rotation slips. The debris from 1973) it is noteworthy that the decline of the degradation
these tends to break down as it descends the slope zone, from around 13 to the ultimate angle of 8, is
and is emplaced on the growing accumulation zone brought about by predominantly retrogressive, succes-
in a translational manner. sive rotational slips. As shown on Figure 37, based on
(3) Not surprisingly, in view of its sheared nature and the Hadleigh degradation zone, this is at first sight
location at the slope foot with high groundwater surprising, as for an average inclination, , of 10.8 and
pressures, the inclination of the accumulation zone,
as noted, tends to anticipate the eventual ultimate
angle of stability against landsliding for the slope.
(4) For Hadleigh, the factors of safety in the winter are
estimated to be about 1.00 and 1.05 for the degra-
dation and accumulation zones, respectively. Thus
the whole slope is sensitive to further destabiliz-
ation by earthworks or adverse groundwater
An interesting variant of the Hadleigh type
abandoned cli is provided by that at Lympne, Kent,
part of the old cli-line, predominantly of Weald Clay,
behind Romney Marsh. Investigation of the foundations
of the slipped Roman Fort there in relation to the
engineering geology of the slope (Hutchinson et al. 1985) Fig. 35. Diagrammatic development of a deficient accumu-
established vectors of slide movement and thus allowed lation zone (based on Lympne abandoned cli in Weald Clay,
reconstruction of the pre-Roman situation. This showed Kent).
that, at the time the fort was built, the inclination of the
accumulation zone, d, exceeded by 12 ult for the
Weald Clay, the latter value being restored by the slip.
This situation arose because a previous accumulation
zone was eroded away by renewed marine erosion as
sea-levels recovered eustatically about 5000 years ,
leaving a steep sea cli in the unweathered Weald Clay.
This did not break down to produce further debris and
the existing debris which slid over the edge of the sea cli
from the remaining upper slopes was insucient to
rebuild a full accumulation zone (Fig. 35). This type of
feature is thus termed a deficient accumulation zone
(Hutchinson 1995). As discussed later, the Lympne slope
is now very mature, with ]. Accordingly the succes-
sive rotational slips in its degradation zone have Fig. 36. Photo (JNH) of undulations in degradation zone at
degraded into smooth contoured undulations (Fig. 36), Lympne, Kent.

In Province P. Four cases, on clayey slopes beyond the

limit of Anglian ice, fall into this category (Table 1).
They all appear to have been formed originally by fluvial
erosion and to have subsequently been modified by
several phases of periglacial solifluction. All are fronted
by a low angle slope, mult, but only at Sevenoaks has
this been proven to have originated through peri-
glacial solifluction. In that in the London Clay
Formation at Guildford (Skempton & Petley 1967), the
resulting erosion and deposition of head had largely
obliterated any earlier abandoned cli features, though
some evidence of remnant successive rotational slipping
was observed during construction of the trench drains
and in the geomorphological mapping.
In the scarp at Sevenoaks (Skempton & Weeks 1976),
formed predominantly by the Atherfield and Weald
Fig. 37. Analyses of (a) finite translational & (b) rotational
slips in a degradation zone.
Clays, capped by the sandstones and limestones of the
Hythe Beds, old mass movement features involving the
latter can be discerned in the slope crest. The middle and
a depth of slipping z of 4 m, the average shear stress set lower slopes are occupied by a ubiquitous solifluction
up by a finite planar slide (LM) is 9.5 kPa, greater than sheet, overlain in places by solifluction lobes. Radio-
that of 7.8 kPa for a circular slip of centre P. This carbon dating of a soil horizon, from the Windermere
conclusion was reached, using a related analysis, by Interstadial (Fig. 9), between the sheet and the lobes,
Jacobson (1952). showed these to date from the main Devensian and the
A feature of successive rotational slides, however, is Loch Lomond Stadial, respectively. Burderop Wood is
that they may have a local surface inclination consider- similar in some respects (Fig. 38a), but there the main
ably higher than that of the average overall slope. Devensian solifluction is absent or subdued and the
Modelling this, very conservatively, as in the circular slip Loch Lomond Stadial deposit is a sheet rather than
of centre O, and removing its toe to a depth of z/2 by lobes. In both cases, the main slip surfaces were found in
retrogression of the subadjacent slip (Fig. 37b) yields an clays at the base of the latest spreads of solifluction
average shear stress for the truncated slip of centre O of debris.
12.7 kPa, i.e. more critical than for the earlier slides In these cases, the solifluction tends to blanket or
considered. partly remove earlier failure surfaces in the upper slopes

Fig. 38. Cross sections of landslides mainly in Gault near Swindon, Wilts (Skempton 1972): (a) Burderop Wood, (b) Hodson.

Fig. 39. Photo of the interglacial chalk cli at Black Rock,

Brighton, Sussex (acknowledgements to R. Shepherd-Thorn).
Approx. contact between solid chalk and debris shown with
a broken line.

and to provide additional ones downslope. In parallel,

some general flattening and smoothing is brought about
and former degradation and accumulation zones tend to
merge into a single slope of inclination , slightly less
than ult (Table 1). Which of these systems of shear
surfaces is likely to be reactivated by earthworks, for
example, will depend on the degree of solifluction and
the nature and position of any imposed cuts and fills. In
the cases at Sevenoaks, Burderop Wood and Hodson,
the failures involved predominantly the solifluction
shears. Fig. 40. Cross section of chalk scarp near Royston, Herts
An additional case in this Province, non-clayey, there- (Hopson 1995). (Reproduced from Volume 106 of the
fore not on Figure 33, is the abandoned interglacial cli Proceedings of the GeologistsAssociation, with permission.)
in chalk at Black Rock, Brighton (Fig. 39) (Hutchinson
& Millar 1998). This has a superabundant accumulation
zone of soliflucted chalk which buries the old sea cli so to the stratigraphically lower Chalk Rock. They were
that it has virtually no surface expression. This results emplaced glaciotectonically by the Anglian ice sheet as
from the great sensitivity of the chalk to freeze-thaw and indicated in Figure 40.
the presence of an extensive hinterland sloping seawards. The third case is that at Barnsdale, Rutland (Chandler
1976, 1977), where Upper Lias clay slopes, capped by
In Province GAP. Three contrasting cases, within the the Northampton Sand, are mantled by head and
area of the Anglian glaciation but outside that of the colluvium. Following investigations for future road-
Devensian, are described (Table 1). works, it was concluded that the slope was formed by
In the Jurassic scarp just south of Daventry (Biczysco fluvial erosion, probably in the early Devensian, which
1981), slides at Fox Hill and Newnham Hill in glacially had eroded away earlier glacial deposits, of which no
and periglacially modified Upper Lias were reactivated evidence was found. Much of the Barnsdale slope is
by roadworks. Both slides were translational, with a occupied by a relict landslide. This involves chiefly
main slip surface at about 5 m depth at the contact disturbed Upper Lias clay which, at the toe, overrides
between displaced Upper Lias and an underlying thin till the head, of either main Devensian or Loch Lomond
layer. In both slides the displaced Upper Lias was Stadial date.
mantled by a layer of soliflucted Upper Lias up to 3 m In summary, these cases suggest that glaciated and
thick. At Fox Hill a planar slip surface at the base of this soliflucted scarps may range in character from close
solifluction layer was also reactivated. No evidence of approximations to soliflucted and non-glaciated scarps,
glaciotectonics was found. the glacial deposits having been removed by erosion, to
The scarp of the Upper Chalk south of Royston is scarps with evidence of fairly violent glaciotectonics.
reported by Hopson (1995) as being plastered by large
chalk rafts, embedded in a matrix of Anglian till, now In Province GDP. Clis and scarps glaciated in the
involved in landsliding. The chalk rafts belong chiefly Devensian are generally outside the scope of the present

paper. Brief mention is made, however, of the numerous the slope are weathering-limited or transport-limited
ice-marginal and overflow channels within this Province, (Young 1972; Carson & Kirkby 1972). While local
associated with the retreat of the Devensian ice. The field measurements are usually the best guide in these
landslipped ice-marginal drainage channel at Waltons matters, slope development models, if validated by field
Wood (Fig. 6 & Table 1) (Early & Skempton 1972) is a observations, can sometimes be helpful.
good example. This feature is Late-glacial, but not
significantly soliflucted as the climate was ameliorating.
Clis in chalk. Under conditions of strong marine
Accordingly it is roughly analogous to a Post-
erosion in the harder chalks, falls such as Joss Bay occur
glacial abandoned cli, such as Hadleigh, but with an
(Hutchinson 1972), partially exploiting pre-existing dis-
erosion- steepened toe.
continuities, the debris forming a talus at around 35. In
softer, higher porosity chalk, such falls can develop into
In Province GLP. Not treated in this paper.
chalk flows, in which the debris can run out seaward by
Crest rounding in clayey abandoned clis. In Britain, the up to five times the cli height (Hutchinson 1988, in
latest significant solifluction episode was that associated press).
with the Loch Lomond Stadial (Fig. 9), which ended In abandoned chalk clis, in which degradation takes
about 10 ka years ago at the start of the Holocene place by a multitude of small-scale weathering events
(minor activity doubtless occurred in some places during rather than by any deeper-seated failures, the accumu-
the Little Ice Age). Thus Holocene (Post-glacial) clis lating talus protects the lower cli and leads to the
have not been soliflucted. They are characterized by development of a buried convex-outward rock profile.
having concave crests. Older, Late-glacial clis in similar Such a process, unlike larger scale landslipping, lends
materials have been soliflucted and have convex crests. itself to treatment by the infinitesimal calculus, as by
Surveys of slope crests of both types in the London Clay Fisher (1866), Lehmann (1933) and Bakker & Le Heux
Formation and in some tills are given in Figure 41. (1947). The predictions of the related, weathering
These data support the conclusion that the presence or limited Fisher-Lehmann and Bakker-Le Heux models
absence of rounding of scarp crests in Britain is diagnos- compare well with a small-scale field example at Overton
tic of whether or not they have been subjected to Down (Hutchinson 1998) (Fig. 42). The rate of recession
periglacial solifluction (Hutchinson 1973, 1991a). of the 1.7 m high scarp of weathered chalk there is
Much attention is paid to this topic in the geo- shown (and compared with that for the Warden Point
morphological literature, with creep, rainsplash and rear scarp) in Figure 43.
solifluction generally being considered as the most
relevant processes (Carson & Kirkby 1972). For British Clis in the London Clay Formation. Qualitative models
conditions, at least, it appears that solifluction and its for strong, moderate and zero basal erosion on coastal
preceding frost action are the chief agents. As shown on clis in the London Clay Formation are given by
Figure 41a, frost will penetrate deeper than average at Hutchinson (1967, 1973) and quantitative ones for
an obtuse scarp crest and, on thawing, tend to round it. strong erosion in this formation by Bromhead (1978).
Other quantitative data on slope development are
available for the deep-seated rotational slide at the
Changes in cliffs with time and some slope strongly eroding Warden Point on 21st November, 1971
development models (Figure 44). This slide, in 43 m high clis, left a steep
rear scarp around 15 m high, the degradation of which
Many of the inland clis and scarps described above are was monitored for 902 days by Gostelow (1974). Al-
in a quiescent or near-quiescent state and it is their though a component in the behaviour of a strongly
considerable sensitivity to being destabilized by earth- eroding cli, this rear scarp approximated for about this
works that constitutes their chief potential hazard to time to an abandoned cli, though eventually its height
engineering projects. Where marine or fluvial erosion is increased significantly as the slipped mass descended
still active, however, slope profiles can change signifi- seawards. As shown by Figure 45, degradation was
cantly each year and even abandoned clayey clis can rapid at first, particularly from the weaker upper parts
continue to degrade for up to thousands of years after of the scarp. This had the eect of preserving the lower
abandonment. exposed part of the original scarp and thus producing a
In these latter cases, the dynamic nature of the marked deviation from the predictions of the Bakker-Le
landscape becomes important and rates of crest retreat, Heux model. A similar pattern was observed over
and thus the necessary set-back of building lines (e.g. 19 years by Wallace (1980) for the degradation of a
Cruden et al. 1989), need to be defined. The mode of 4.5 m high normal fault scarp in morainic material
development clearly depends strongly on the conditions in Montana. In both cases the slope crest remained
of debris removal, particularly by erosion at the concave throughout. The progress of crest retreat at
slope base, and whether the processes operating on Warden Point over 902 days, averaged over the five

Fig. 41. Rounding of slope crests: (a) Isothermal for an obtuse 160 corner (R. E. Gibson pers. comm. 1978); Sections of some
crests of Late- and Post-glacial clis in, (b) London Clay Formation, (c) tills (after Gostelow 1974).

monitored profiles, is shown in Figure 46: the average slide will occur after 40 years, Figure 47, relevant in the
height of the rear scarp during this period was 16 m. management of coast erosion, has been drawn to show
The cyclical nature of the Warden Point slides has the progress of cli top retreat during the whole of such
been referred to above. On the assumption that the next a cycle.

Fig. 44. Warden Point slide, Kent, and its steep initial rear
scarp in London Clay Formation, looking west (acknowledge-
ments to Committee for Aerial Photography, University of

Fig. 42. Overton Down Experimental Earthwork, Wilts.

Comparison of model predictions with actual degradation in
chalk (Hutchinson 1998).

Fig. 45. Successive profiles of rear scarp in London Clay

Formation at Warden Point during 902 days of degradation
(Gostelow 1974).

the behaviour of slides on the nearby defended clis

of the same clay formation at Southend. As shown by
Figure 48 for the period 19671976, the Soil Moisture
Deficit there remained well above zero, even in the
winters, for 6 of the 9 years considered. The correspond-
Fig. 43. Overton Down, rate of crest retreat in chalk ing absence of slides in these winters is inferred to be due
compared with that in London Clay Formation at Warden to the persistence of negative pore-water pressures in the
Point rear scarp (see later). slope mantle. In contrast, the 14 slides recorded all
occurred when the SMD was at, or close to, zero, when
Hadleigh cli, abandoned between 10 and 15 ka ago, such negative pressures would be expected to disappear
is still degrading, with a concave crest. To establish the (Hutchinson 1995a). The seemingly slow rate of degra-
rate of this process for the London Clay Formation by dation at Hadleigh is probably thus explained. A similar
comparing clis of similar height abandoned at dierent cli in a wetter climate, with field capacity reached each
times is hardly feasible, mainly because the initial slopes winter, would tend to degrade around three times faster.
are not known, dating is dicult and small contrasts in An estimate of the retreat rates at Hadleigh, based on
climate are influential. The importance of the last point the reconstructed profiles from 10 ka to present, is
at Hadleigh, in the driest area of Britain, is illustrated by shown in Figure 49. On the same basis, the tendency for

Fig. 48. Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Relation of landsliding in

Fig. 46. Warden Point rear scarp in London Clay London Clay Formation to variation of Soil Moisture
Formation. Rates of crest recession over 902 days (Gostelow Deficit for period 19671976 (Hutchinson 1995a).

Fig. 49. Hadleigh, Essex. Inferred rate of crest retreat in

London Clay Formation over past 10 000 years.

Fig. 47. Warden Point. Pattern of crest recession in London

Clay Formation throughout a whole landslip cycle (assumed
whether the eects of the climatic changes to which they
to extend over 40 years). have been subject have been fully allowed for in the
North American work. As convex slope crests are
inherent in this model, it is inapplicable to the
the inclination of the degradation zone, , to decline, Post-glacial clayey slopes in Britain described earlier,
with increasing slope maturity, towards the constant developing predominantly by landsliding.
inclination, , of the accumulation zone, is illustrated in For cuttings in the London Clay Formation, delayed
the plot of  against time (Figure 50). failures involving a single landslide have been success-
The so-called diusion model has been widely applied fully modelled geotechnically by Potts et al. (1997) using
in North America, chiefly to old fault scarps in granular coupled finite element analyses. A development of this
debris and abandoned clis in tills, (e.g. Andrews & approach would seem to oer the best prospect for the
Hanks 1985). This relates empirically the form of the long-term modelling of an abandoned cli such as
slope concerned to that of the diusion curve for the Hadleigh.
decay of temperature from an initial rectilinear step
distribution. Where it has been calibrated against dated
scarps, it appears to have yielded useful estimated Review of engineering case records of
datings, generally for features several tens of thousand earthworks on clayey slopes
years old or more, in which development by mass
movement has been replaced by that due to long-acting, In Table 2 are assembled 18 readily available case
small-scale, shallow transportational processes. Related records of both successful and unsuccessful earthworks
models for the latter are provided by Kirkby (1971). In in England and Wales in the period 19601987. In all
the case of scarps, more than say 10 ka old, it is not clear cases, pre-existing shears are involved and in at least

Education and training of British civil

engineers and engineering geologists

In order to appraise properly our present university and

other programmes in the field under discussion, it is
necessary to be aware of chance historical developments
that have aected the earth sciences over the past
century and a half. These, surveyed briefly in Appendix
B, have resulted in:
(1) A significant degree of separation of geomorphol-
ogy from geology in the universities and its pursuit
largely by geographers.
(2) A long-established emphasis in most geology
departments on the older rocks and deep geology
and, with of course some notable exceptions, a
corresponding lack of interest in the Quaternary
which, again, is now pursued chiefly by geogra-
phers. This is illustrated by the membership of
the Quaternary Research Association (a valu-
Fig. 50. Hadleigh, Essex. Inferred variation of  with time able learning source for Quaternary-deprived
in London Clay Formation over past 10 000 years. engineers). In 1999, out of a total of about
860 members, approximate percentages were; 1%
the 16 inland cases, these are inherited from events in the pedologists, 1.5% civil engineers, 2% palaeo-
Pleistocene (Figure 9). It is instructive to relate the botanists, 4% biologists, 6% archaeologists, 14%
degree of success of the earthworks to the quality of geologists and 40% physical geographers, with
the initial site appraisals carried out. Three significant 31.5% unspecified.
points should be noted.
Civil engineering departments have traditionally
Firstly that in all the successful earthworks, the
placed reliance on geology departments for teaching in
proper procedures of initial site appraisal, particularly
earth-related areas and have essentially no contact with
desk studies, and appreciation of the geomorphology
geography departments. Thus, as a result of (1) and (2)
and Quaternary geology of the sites by mapping and
above, many civil engineering students, and some
well-logged trial trenches, were followed to a satisfactory
engineering geologists, have had little contact with
degree. Conversely, all the unsuccessful earthworks are
geomorphology and often an abbreviated introduction
marked by the omission of these steps.
to Quaternary geology (Appendix C). This is despite the
Secondly, in all the successful cases, the cuts and fills
fact that, for every site, geomorphology is the first thing
carried out are concordant with the simple precepts
encountered and its Quaternary geology is often of
which emerge from the influence line approach: in all the
over-riding importance. These matters thus constitute a
unsuccessful earthworks, the opposite applies.
significant gap in our system of education and training
Thirdly, that while there were understandable reasons
(Hutchinson & Wilson 1993).
for the earlier failures, it is successively more dicult to
justify the later ones.

Discussion Professional consequences

In the foregoing a possible framework of tools, vocabu-
The above situation has existed for decades and appears
lary and methodology for reading the ground is out-
generally to have been accepted passively by the civil
lined. In this, as noted earlier, the combination of an
engineering profession. As a result, many civil
informed brain and a trained eye (Fookes 1997) forms a
engineers may have gone into industry with a negative
potentially powerful instrument of investigation. It is
perception of engineering geology and no awareness of
evident, however, that the ecacy of this instrument
geomorphology. This may lie behind:
depends crucially on the quality of our education and
training programmes (discussed below), particularly in the tendency for site investigation generally to be
the areas of engineering geology, with emphasis on the undervalued and for the initial site appraisal, its least
Quaternary, and geomorphology. The point was empha- costly element, to be restricted or even omitted. The
sized by Glossop (1968), . . . if you do not know what cost of putting an engineering geologist or geomor-
you should be looking for in a site investigation, you are phologist on site for a day in the UK is equivalent to
not likely to find much of value. only a few metres of cored borehole (D. Norbury pers.
Table 2. Review of some man-induced earthwork failures and some successful earthworks in southern Britain

F=fill, C=cut, Fu=rapidly placed fill giving +ve undrained pore water pressures, Fmb=fill monitored to control such pressures and buttressed by fill downslope (in T or M). *While the term
geomorphological map was not used, all cracks and scarps were mapped, the history of the behaviour of the railway at the toe studied, and a trial bank constructed. This failure was roughly half
due to solifluction shears and half to the design of the dam. The cases (mostly involving roads) covered by this table fall approximately in the main period of motorway and trunk road construction.

comm.). In addition, it appears that not only financial

factors but also an insucient provision of time for
proper site appraisal is an all too common feature of
current procedures for the procurement of engineering
services (W. J. Rankin pers. comm.). This is despite
strong evidence that, in this particularly high risk
situation, such practices frequently lead to future
losses of time and money very much greater than
those saved (Institution of Civil Engineers 1991).
our frequently poor record in constructing earthworks
on clayey slopes, and particularly its persistence after
the earlier failures. For the 18 readily available case
records (196087) summarized in Table 2, the success
rate is only 1 in 3.
the past reluctance of engineers in Britain to contact
geologists or geomorphologists who have previous
knowledge of the site. This applies, with serious
consequences, to several of the case records in Table 2.
By contrast, one is impressed in North America by the
willingness of firms at the start of a job to fly in
anyone, from any part of the world, whom they
consider may be helpful.
In this connection, there seems to be a general preju-
dice against non-quantitative subjects (discussed further
below), possibly only half-realized but nonetheless
potent, amongst many civil engineers. This powerfully Fig. 51. The folly of prejudice.
reinforces the barriers already described between civil
engineering and geologically related knowledge, arising
from historical accidents and university structures. If eastern slope, many apparently unaware that this was
there were reasons for such attitudes in the past, it is removing the toe from a large pre-existing landslide.
folly to let these continue to constrain our ability to Three weeks after this excavation, 35 million m3 of this
perform properly as a profession. Nature is blind to our slide came down, rendering the dam site unusable. What
arbitrary sub-divisions of her unity (Figure 51). was missing from this quantitative and narrow approach
was the qualitative observation that the whole eastern
valley side, extending to a rear scarp nearly a kilometre
Qualitative and quantitative knowledge from the dam site, was occupied by a landslide with only
marginal stability, with an eroding toe. This could
A further important matter concerns the nature and
readily have been established prior to the excavation by
relationship of quantitative and qualitative knowledge.
a half-hour helicopter flight or a half-days walk. This
That quantitative knowledge is paramount and should
failure is a perfect example of the situation envisaged by
be our chief aim has been a leitmotif of science
Glossop, with which the paper opens.
and engineering since before Kelvin. The resulting
Such cases underline the fact that the initial, and often
progress has been outstanding, not least in geotechnics,
the crucial role of the engineering geologist is qualitative
and there is no doubt that we should continue along this
to establish what significant engineering geological
route. What must be avoided, however, is the mistaken
phenomena are aecting a site. Once that is correctly
and all too common belief that qualitative knowledge is
decided, the subsequent investigations can readily be
inferior to quantitative and of little worth. Both should
developed, given the requisite time and finance, to
be regarded as important, with a qualitative step often
provide the degree of quantitative knowledge necessary.
being necessary before the next quantitative one can be
However, if the qualitative assessment is omitted, or
securely taken.
faulty, any quantitative investigations are likely to be
In our present field we have the instructive case of the
slimes dam construction at Ok Ma, Papua New Guinea.
A cross section of the site and of the excavation for the
dam footprint is shown on Figure 52. Several shelf-feet Some suggestions for the future
of quantitative reports were produced by major geo-
technical consulting firms on details of the footprint Faced as we are in site appraisal with a level of
excavation, and particularly what angle  to use for its complexity . . . that is completely unknown in other

Fig. 52. Cross section of Ok Ma landslide, Papua New Guinea (authors files).

engineering disciplines (Freeze, et al. 1990, as noted (5) In addition, room must be made for the critical
earlier), we cannot aord to continue with a system of discussion of representative case records, particularly
education and training which is deficient to some degree of failed projects. Such case records make an
in the respects discussed above. The start of this new invaluable contribution to our understanding of
millennium seems a good time to review this situation the eects of our interventions with the ground.
and to take steps to improve it. Some suggestions are: They need to be continually borne in mind and
(1) Past experience indicates that it is unrealistic to added to whenever possible.
expect the universities to somehow put things right. (6) The time allotted to engineering geology/
As a profession, therefore, we need to be pro-active engineering geomorphology, especially in under-
and to take whatever steps are necessary at under- graduate civil engineering courses, has been cut
graduate and Masters levels, and in Continuing back severely over the years, frequently to non-
Professional Development, to arrange for a proper viable levels (Appendix C). This is partly the result
education and training in these ground-related of these disciplines being regarded, improperly, as
matters. expendable because largely non-quantitative. Cost
(2) As a first step, a thorough review of the present and safety aspects of field work have also led to this
situation in the universities with regard to the being additionally reduced, although engineering
teaching of engineering geology will be needed, in geology is essentially a field subject. The need for
collaboration with the appropriate professional restoration of appropriate levels of teaching time in
bodies. (The questionnaire summarized in this area is urgent, as illustrated below.
Appendix C represents only a preliminary step in On average for 31 of the universities oering
this direction.) Further detailed steps will naturally accredited civil engineering courses, for example,
depend on what is revealed. the total times spent on combined engineering
(3) The essential aim should be to re-integrate geomor- geology teaching (i.e. basic, engineering and
phology with engineering geology. The appropriate Quaternary geology, plus any geomorphology) in
geomorphological material will thus preferably be their whole civil engineering undergraduate courses
added to expanded engineering geology modules are 24.9 hours lectures, 3.8 hours laboratories and
rather than be treated as a separate unit. What 2.6 days field courses. Of these times, 3.7 hours,
constitutes appropriate geomorphological material 0.5 hours and 0.7 days, on average, are devoted to
will need to be discussed. A major injection of engineering geomorphology.
geomorphology into civil engineering courses is not Out of these 31 undergraduate courses, 8 have
proposed, but basic concepts, mapping and related 12 hours or less of combined engineering geology
fieldwork, remote sensing, and hazard and risk lectures, and 10 have 4 hours or less of laboratories
assessment, with coverage of the main geomorpho- and 1 day or less in the field. The figures speak for
logical environments would all seem to be needed themselves.
(J. S. Griths pers. comm.). Corresponding times for MSc courses are slightly
(4) This expansion of engineering geology modules will better, but very variable.
also be needed to accommodate a fuller treatment (7) Because of the considerable time for which this
of Quaternary engineering geology. The great situation has existed, it will not be easy to find the
importance of this has been urged by previous right teachers. In order to provide the necessary
authors (e.g. Fookes 1997, in The First Glossop authority and enthusiasm, it is highly desirable
Lecture, and Fookes et al. 2000) and is also for them to have professional experience of
brought out in this paper. site appraisal on engineering sites. At present

(Appendix C), around 40%, on average, of engi- geomorphology, giving due weight to the Quaternary
neering geology sta in the universities are reported and valuing and re-valuing its case records. It also
as having professional site experience. reminds us of the richness and variety of British
(8) The influential BS5930:1999 (British Standards geology within a compact area, with most geological
Institution 1999), while containing much sound periods except the Miocene well represented, and with a
advice, does not provide appropriate guidance in Quaternary that gives us glaciated, periglaciated and
the area of initial site appraisal. A supplementary temperate Holocene landscapes. With such resources, it
publication to remedy this should be published should not be dicult to re-ignite interest and enthusi-
without delay. asm in this fieldundoubtedly the best way of securing
(9) Recent developments in computerized data-bases the future health of the profession in the areas of
are useful, but could be more comprehensive and engineering geology and site appraisal.
better coordinated. Universities and others could,
with advantage, jointly produce reference lists and Acknowledgements. I thank the Engineering Group of the
Geological Society for inviting me to give the Fourth Glossop
case record summaries, which would help greatly in
Lecture and for the excellent support provided by the Confer-
teaching and in desk studies and an associated web ence Team. I have been greatly helped by a wide group of
site could be opened. The DOE Landslide Survey, colleagues, to whom I am most grateful. These include: Miss
not added to since 1991 (Jones & Lee 1994), is now R. E. Allington, Mr L. Attewill, Mr C. A. Bonnard, Professor
held by the British Geological Survey. It is good D. Q. Bowen, Dr E. E, Brabb, Mr A. Bracegirdle, Professor
E. N. Bromhead, Professor D. Brunsden, Professor J. B.
news (A. Forster pers. comm.) that this important
Burland, Dr J. A, Catt, Professor R. J. Chandler, Professor
data source is currently being revived as part of a R. J. Chorley, Mr M. M. Chrimes, Dr A. R. Clark, Professor
BGS central registry of landslides, collapses and K. Clayton, Dr J. W. Cosgrove, Dr F. Cotecchia, Dr M. J.
other valuable engineering geological and mining Crozier, Professor D. M. Cruden, Professor G. L. Herries
data. Davies, Professor T. R. Davies, Dr M. H. de Freitas, Dr P. L.
Gibbard, Dr T. P. Gostelow, Dr D. Graham, Mr R. E. Gray,
Dr J. S. Griths, Professor M. Hamza, Dr J Hanisch, Mr
R. B. Haryott, Dr G. J. Hearn, Mr J. Henry, Dr A. F.
Howland, Professor O. Hungr, Mr C. Ing, Mr D. Jarman, Dr
R. H. Johnson, Professor D. K. C. Jones, Dr C. R. J. Kilburn,
Endpiece Mr E. M. Lee, Professor J. Lewin, Professor G. S. Littlejohn,
Mr M. Machacek, Dr M. C. Matthews, Mr R. S. Morley, Mr
Significant, long-standing gaps have been identified in D. Norbury, Dr A. D. M. Penman, Dr K. Privett, Mr W. J.
Rankin, Professor K. S. Richards, Dr C. Schindler, Dr R. J.
the education and training in Britain of civil engineers Schuster, Mr D. T. Shilston, Mr H. J. Siddle, Dr G. P. Sims,
and, to some extent, of engineering geologists, in the Dr A. E. Skinner, Mr T. W. Spink, Professor N. Stephens,
areas of geomorphology and Quaternary geology. Professor P. R. Vaughan, Dr A. Warwick, Mrs S. Watson, Dr
Remedying these should result not only in a major A. G. Weeks, Mr P. Wheeler and Professor P. Worsley. I
improvement in our treatment of earthworks on clayey would also like to thank very particularly Professor P. G.
Fookes, Mr A. A. McMillan, Mr D. L. Millar, Dr D. J. Petley
slopes, but also in raising our sights and technological and Professor Sir Alec Skempton. I am deeply grateful to my
confidence to tackle the numerous major environmental wife for her interest and support.
problems of the world, of which saving the Aral Sea I gratefully acknowledge the permission of Dr T. P.
could be just a beginning. Gostelow to quote from his PhD Thesis, and that of UKAEA
Above all, I hope that the paper demonstrates, to make reference to the work at Dounreay. The help provided
by W. S. Atkins Consultants Ltd in drafting Tables 1 & 2 and
particularly to our present and future students, how Figure 9 and by Mott MacDonald with the presentation is
stimulating and rewarding engineering geology becomes much appreciated, as is the work of Miss R. Beaumont on the
when restored to its proper position, re-integrated with graphics and Mr P. Howard on the photographs.


Appendix A. Aerial Photographs: a major desk study resource, by J. Henry

Aerial survey photographs provide a unique 3-dimensional tool for appraising sites for engineering geological and
geotechnical desk studies. In the UK and most of Europe, aerial photography exists from the 1940s to the present,
enabling sites to be monitored over several dates. This often permits built sites to be examined retrospectively as green
fields. Landfill sites can be observed on several dates often starting as an open excavation followed by several stages
where types and thicknesses of fill can be logged. For brown field sites, the photographs show past industrial structures
and land uses. For natural sites, slope stability, soil type and drainage conditions can be interpreted.
Aerial photographic interpretation forms an important and critical role in desk studies providing information and
detail that supplement published geological and topographic maps. BS 5930:1999 Code of Practice for Site
Investigation (Section 1, paragraph 8) advises the consultation of aerial photographs in desk studies for site

investigations. One diculty is sourcing aerial photographs. In the UK, there are separate major archives for England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition there is the Ordnance Survey, several commercial and academic
sources. These primary sources are listed below. All air photo collections are listed in the NAPLIB Directory of Aerial
Photographic Collections in the United Kingdom, 2nd Edition, 1999.
When acquiring and viewing aerial photography, it is fundamentally important to order stereo cover. That is,
overlapping photographs that can be viewed through a stereoscope and observed in 3-dimensions. Not only can slope
angles, heights and depths of structures, excavations and landfills be measured or estimated, but also much significant
detail emerges that is not discernible from a single photograph.
Stereo air photography exists because the photogrammatic technology of the past 60 years has required it in order
to produce topographic maps. The geological and geotechnical use of it is a fortunate by product. The advent of digital
cameras and image interpretation techniques uses the powerful but narrow capabilities of computers to discriminate
colours, textures and patterns on photographs and satellite images. However, this approach has had the unfortunate
tendency to ignore what computer image analysis can not deal with, i.e. the sensitive interpretation of slope form and
change of form over time.
The application of airborne lasers to terrain profiling coupled at the pixel to directly scanned images (through
GPSglobal positioning system) of a photogrammetric standard is a rapidly developing technology. Within the next
10 to 15 years we are likely to find that the current technical diculties (of vast data files demanding large amounts of
onboard memory or economical rapid down-link systems to ground stations) will be resolved into an aordable
technology. This will replace aerial survey photography and photogrammetry as we know it.
High resolution satellite imagery became available in January 2000, as a potential rival to aerial photography or
scanned imagery. Its 1 m resolution gives a photographic quality picture at 1:10 000 scale. It is particularly useful for
large areas and in countries where the military prevents aerial photography. At present it does not have a stereo
viewing capability and the entry cost is too high for many projects.
Despite the ease of handling digital images, we must not be deluded that digital aerial or satellite images clipped out
of the most recent survey for illustrative use is sucient without sensitive 3-D portrayal for a desk study. We need to
be aware that digital technology that enables invisible patching of new detail into existing cover is actually corrupting
the images usefulness as a historical document.
The challenge will be to retain data (i.e. digital images and terrain models) in a form which continues to be useful
and accessible in computing terms to geotechnical engineers and geologists of the future who may be considering our
construction activities and land uses in their desk studies.
For the present and future, our excellent photographic archives remain a powerful resource which should be used for
eective desk studies of the second half of the twentieth century and the early decades of the twenty-first.

List of primary sources of aerial survey photography in the UK

English Heritage, Kemble Drive, SWINDON, Wilts, SN2 2 GZ Tel. 01793 414 833
National Monument Record Fax. 01793 414 606
Royal Commission for Ancient and John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard Terrace, Tel. 0131 662 1456
Historical Monuments in Scotland EDINBURGH EH8 9NX Fax. 0131 662 1477
Welsh Oce, Air Photographs Unit Crown Oces, Cathays Park, CARDIFF CF1 3NQ Tel. 01222 823 815
Fax. 01222 823 036
Ordnance Survey of Colby House, Stranmillis Court, BELFAST BT9 5BJ Tel. 028 9025 5755
Northern Ireland Fax. 028 9025 5700
ADAS, Ministry of Agriculture, Woodthorne, Wergs Road, Tel. 01902 693 199
Fisheries and Food WOLVERHAMPTON WV6 8TQ Fax. 01902 693 400
Ordnance Survey Refer to your local OS map agent


Aerofilms Ltd Gate Studios, Station Road, Tel. 020 8207 0666
BOREHAMWOOD, Herts, WD6 1EJ Fax. 020 8207 5433
BKS Surveys Ltd 47 Ballycairn Road, COLERAINE, Co Londonderry, Tel. 028 7035 2311
Northern Ireland BT51 3HZ Fax. 028 7035 7637
Cartographical Services Ltd The Survey Centre, Waterworks Road, Tel. 01905 29085
WORCESTER WR1 3EZ Fax. 01905 617 771

National Remote Sensing Centre Ltd Barwell Business Centre, Arthur Street, Tel. 01455 849 207
(for air photos) BARWELL, Leics, LE9 8GZ Fax 01455 841 785
Wildgoose Ltd The Old Toy Factory, 10 The Business Park, Tel. 01530 835 685
Jackson Street, COALVILLE, Leics, LE67 3NR Fax. 01530 835 691


Cambridge University Committee Mond Building, Free School Lane, Tel. 01223 334 578
for Air Photographs CAMBRIDGE CB2 3RF Fax. 01223 334 400
Keele University, Aerial Dept. of Geography, KEELE, Stas, ST5 5BG Tel. 01782 583 395
photography manager (for RAF Fax. 01782 584 144
WW II air photos outside UK)
Satellite coverage

National Remote Sensing Centre Ltd Delta House, Southwood Crescent, Southwood, Tel. 01252 541 464
FARNBOROUGH, Hants, GU14 0NL Fax. 01252 375 016
Nigel Press Associates 1 Fircroft Way, EDENBRIDGE, Kent TN8 6HS Tel. 01732 865 023
Fax. 01732 866 521
County, universities and other collections hold local photography from the above sources as well as much coverage
from local individual flyers. These collections are listed in the NAPLIB Directory of Aerial Photographic Collections in
the United Kingdom, 2nd Edition, 1999.
John Henry
13 Fitzroy Street
London W1P 6BQ
United Kingdom

Appendix B. Brief note on the history of geomorphology and Quaternary geology in Britain
(Chorley et al. 1964; Davies 1966)
Geomorphology. In the late eighteenth century, as shown in the writings of Hutton (1788) and Playfair (1802), a strong
interest in landforms meant that geology and what we now term geomorphology were integrated. This situation
continued into the early to mid-nineteenth century and, as late as 1864, Ramsay delivered, in the Royal School of
Mines, six lectures on Physical Geology and Geography which continued this tradition. However, in the latter part of
the nineteenth century, the interest of most British geologists in geomorphology waned, partly because of the natural
dominance of their vigorous and trail-blazing palaeontological and stratigraphical work on the elucidation of the
Palaeozoic rocks of western Britain and partly through the lead taken by American geologists and geomorphologists
in the magnificently exposed, newly opened up areas of the American West. After visiting there, Archibald Geikie, the
leading British geologist and geomorphologist of his day, concluded that the future of geomorphology lay in the U. S.
and turned his attention to other fields (G. L. Davies pers. comm.).
In Britain the vacuum left by the separation of geomorphology from geology, and its subsequent neglect by
geologists, was filled by the growth of departments of physical geography from the late nineteenth century onwards.
These naturally proceeded to build up the subject of geomorphology, largely distinct from geology, which further
intensified the divorce of the two subjects. This separation was accentuated by the influential Harvard school of
geomorphology, set up by the geographer, W. M. Davis, in the late nineteenth century. His non-quantitative, cycle of
erosion/denudation chronology concepts dominated geomorphology on both sides of the Atlantic from then until
about the second World War.
The discipline was drastically modernized during the period 194565 by the introduction of a quantified,
process-response-systems approach, deriving initially from ideas which originated mainly in hydrology and hydraulic
engineering (Horton 1945; Mackin 1948) (R. J. Chorley pers. comm.), which has generally been continued. In 1966,
Davies (1966) wrote that the present revival of landform studies has been the work not of British geologists, but of
British geographers. Not since the days of Jukes, Ramsay and Geikie has British geology taken any serious interest in
the configuration of the earths surface. This situation has since improved, largely through increasing environmental

demands in planning and consultancy. Regrettably, after a flowering in the 1970s and early 1980s in the universities of
London and Nottingham, with useful impact in practice, interest in applied and engineering geomorphology in most
universities has diminished, in part through a concentration on process studies and in part through course proliferation
and diversification.

Quaternary geology. Acceptance of the glacial theory in Britain was encouraged by the visit of Agassiz to London and
Scotland in 1840 and the support of geologists such as Buckland, A. Geikie and, eventually, Lyell. After initial strong
opposition the glacial theory was firmly established by about 1865, but study of the associated geological features was
generally not seriously considered. The view of most geologists in the late nineteenth century was that Pleistocene
deposits were so much heterogeneous rubbish which obscured the all-important exposures of the solid rocks, an
attitude which unfortunately still persists to some degree. Head, an old quarrymens term for overburden, which
commonly also reflects this view, was first applied by a geologist (De La Beche) to superficial Pleistocene deposits in
1839 (Dines et al. 1940). This neglect of, even disdain for, the Quaternary has aected many university geology
departments for the past century or more, and still persists to a significant extent. The resultant vacuum, like that in
geomorphology mentioned above, has to a large extent been filled by geographers. Since the early 1970s, some balance
is being restored by the strong regrowth of interest in the Quaternary within the British Geological Survey, under the
stimulus of oshore mapping, the results of deep sea drilling (Shackleton 1967), environmental geological mapping,
resource surveys and hydrogeological mapping (Foster et al. 1999).

Appendix C. Summary of replies to questionnaire on the teaching of engineering geology and

geomorphology to civil engineers in Britain

In April, 2000, with the cooperation on the Joint Board of Moderators, a questionnaire on the teaching of engineering
geology and geomorphology to civil engineers was circulated to 52 British universities oering JBM accredited, BEng
and BSc courses in civil engineering. Of these, 31 relevant replies (60%) were received. (One of these, Oxford Brookes,
is omitted as its modular course structure makes it theoretically possible for unusually large periods to be spent on the
above subjects). A similar question on 11 taught MSc and Diploma, Engineering Geology and Geotechnical
Engineering (& Geotechnology) courses, brought 9 replies (82%).
In the following, the main questions are stated and the average and, in parenthesis, the range of replies are given for
undergraduate courses in Civil Engineering. MSc and Diploma courses have widely varying titles and no attempt is
made here to summarize these. Individual institutions are not identified. The actual replies received are filed with the
Joint Board of Moderators at 17 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA.

Times, given in hours unless stated otherwise, apply to the whole UG Civil Engineering course.
Q1. Times spent on total engineering geology and any engineering geomorphology:
Lects: 25.3 (4 to 76) Labs: 2.9 (0 to 35) Field: 2.7 (0 to 6) days
Q2. Times spent, within the Q1 figures, on Quaternary geology:
Lects: 4.0 (0 to 15) Labs: 2.1 (0 to 20) Field: 0.7 (0 to 3) days
Q3. Times spent, within the Q1 figures, on engineering geomorphology:
Lects: 3.6 (0 to 12) Labs: 0.4 (0 to 4) Field: 0.6 (0 to 4.7) days
Q4. Times spent, within the Q1 figures, on critical case records:
2.9 (0 to 30)
Q5. Number of landslides/collapses mapped in the field:
0.1 (0 to 1)/0.1 (0 to 1)
Q6. Number of slip surfaces seen in field:
1.5 (0 to 8)
Q7. What proportion of teaching sta are practising engineering geologists?
Generally 37%
Q8. What proportion of civil engrg depts have an associated geology/geography dept?
Generally 47%
Q9. What proportion of those included in Q8 use their geology/geography link?
Generally 53%

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Received 9 October 2000.

Vote of Thanks and soundly-argued cases. If many of them relate to his

own contribution to science: that is the result of the size
and importance of that contribution.
Professor Edward N. Bromhead, Kingston The central theme of this Glossop Lecture is the
University School of Engineering profoundly simpleor perhaps more correctly, it is
the simply profoundmessage of geomorphology that
It has truly been a pleasure and a privilege to hear the shape of the earths surface reflects both the under-
Professor John Hutchinson present the Fourth Glossop lying geological structure and a sequence of processes
Lecture on the subject of Reading the Ground: acting over geological time up to and including the
Morphology and Geology in Site Appraisal. John present day. Natures three-dimensional writing can be
Hutchinson is a known throughout the world as a read, if one knows the language, and takes the time to
first-rate original thinker, a meticulous scholar and a do so.
prolific writer. Readers in many countries will eagerly There can be few people who have contributed so
await the opportunity to read the written version of this greatly to the detailed understanding of this message as
Glossop Lecture in the Quarterly Journal. This will John Hutchinson. His review of the engineering geo-
enhance the already outstanding reputation of its morphology of slopes which forms a major part of the
Author. Lecture summarizes the understanding to which he has
John Hutchinson has a remarkable ability as a so materially contributed in that elegant and complete
lecturer and presenter. This is perhaps less well-known manner his followers have come to expect.
than it deserves to be. The audience for the lecture will, In the second part of the Lecture, John Hutchinson
I am sure, help to redress this. Many friends, colleagues reminds us that there is much more to learn, and that
and associates who have seen the lecture in gestation lessons from the past are all too often disregarded. There
will be aware of the eort which has gone into it, but are reasons for this, and they are rooted in the edu-
tonights audience have only seen the polished end cation and training of civil engineers and engineering
result. It has been a tour de force. geologists. John Hutchinsons teaching career coincided
One might forgive a celebrity lecturer with a long and with a period of growth in the teaching of Geotechnics
successful career if he chose to rest on his laurels, and and Engineering Geology through the 1960s to 80s.
merely recap the highlights of his career and publi- Disturbingly, the trend today is one of retrenchment.
cations. A large audience could be found for such Those of us who think that this is regrettable will
a review when delivered by a lecturer such as John certainly use this Lecture in arguing the case within our
Hutchinson. However, the Fourth Glossop Lecturer has Universities and Professions.
resisted that temptation, and has instead provided new As one who has worked with John at various levels
insights into his field, supported by deeply-researched over 30 years, I knew what the Fourth Glossop Lecture

would be like: a scholarly exposition of the subject, thank Professor John Hutchinson for this lecture, in the
painstakingly researched, beautifully illustrated, and certain knowledge that it will bear the test of time and be
fluently delivered. I knew we would be informed and seen as a milestone in its field. It has been a perfect
entertained at the same time. On behalf of the Society, combination of Lecturer and Subject.
the audience and the profession at large, I would like to