Effects of evaporite removal on the mass properties of limestone

  • Dearman W. R. 
  • Coffey J. R. 
Symposium on Engineering Geolgoical Problems of Construction on Soluble Rocks


A considerable thickness of anhydrite has been removed by solution from Magnesian Limestone of County Durham in North-east England. To the west the extent of the anhydrite was formerly limited by the front of the well known Permian reef complex. The anhydrite beds thickened to the east and have been proved in borings a few miles offshore.

Solution of the anhydrite has been ascribed to circulating groundwaters. The general circulation, and hence solution of anhydrite, would have been limited to the east by the fresh to saltwater interface approximately coincident with the present coastline.

By using the methods available for predicting ground strains and subsidence associated with the underground mining of coal seams, it is possible to predict:
  1. (a)

    the direction and position of maximum surface strain in the limestones above the anhydrite

  2. (b)

    the localiation of brecciation in the associated limestones as the anhydrite was removed.


The resultant changes in the mass properties of the formerly well-bedded limestones are described and discussed.


Dolomite Gypsum Breccia Coal Seam Anhydrite 

Effets de la dissolution d'evaporites sur les proprietes de masses calcaires


Une puissance considérable d'anhydrite a été enlevée par dissolution du calcaire magnésien de County Durham, au nord-est de l'Angleterre. Autrefois l'extension de l'anhydrite vers l'ouest était limitée par le front d'un récif permien bien connu. Les bancs d'anhydrite s'épaississaient vers l'est; leur présence a été prouvée par des forages à une distance de quelques miles en mer. La dissolution de l'anhydrite a été attribuée à l'eau souterraine. La circulation en général, et donc la dissolution de l'anhydrite, aurait été limitée vers l'est par une zone d'interface entre l'eau douce et l'eau salée. Cette zone coïncide approximativement avec la côte actuelle.

En utilisant des méthodes existantes pour l'étude des déformations souterraines et la subsidence liée à l'exploitation des couches de charbon, il est possible de prédire:
  1. (a)

    la direction et la position de la déformation maximale en surface dans les calcaires au-dessus de l'anhydrite

  2. (b)

    la localisation de la bréchification dans les calcaires associés quand l'anhydrite est dissoute.


On décrit et on discute des propriétés de massifs en résultant. Les changements qui en résultent dans les propriétés des masses calcaires initialement bien litées sont décrits et discutés.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Engineering Geology 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dearman W. R. 
    • 1
  • Coffey J. R. 
    • 2
  1. 1.Engineering Geology UnitUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneTyne and WearUK
  2. 2.Mining DepartmentSunderland PolytechnicTyne and WearUK

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