This report presents the final draft of a literature review of the soil-related impacts on national infrastructure in the United Kingdom on behalf of the UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) project.
Much of the UK’s national infrastructure is in direct contact with the soil. Soil is a diverse and dynamic bio-physical system with fluctuating volume, moisture content, temperature, chemistry and permeability. Resultantly, the effect of soil upon both above-ground and below-ground infrastructure can be considerable.
This study focuses on the effects soil exerts in terms of ground movement, corrosive attack on buried materials, mass movement and water and contaminant movement. This study excludes the roles soil plays in affecting and mitigating flooding, this being addressed elsewhere in the wider ITRC project. It considers the impacts of natural rather than engineered soil systems on infrastructure stability and resilience.
The most direct and pronounced effects of soil are exerted upon buried infrastructure such as pipes, where the ground movement and corrosion can lead to degrading effects. Soil related subsidence has the potential to chronically affect key built infrastructure having foundations in the soil column. Frost heave is identified as a contributory factor to pipe breaks in the winter, as well as consequent and related erosion leading to increased rates of sediment deposition on transport routes.