The collaborative research approach took place on 19-20 April at a site of special scientific interest (SSSI); Ashford Hill, between Reading and Newbury, is a national nature reserve (NNR) owned and protected by Natural England. As well as having diverse wildlife, Ashford Hill is a site of great geological importance due to an underlying large, natural and undisturbed drift-filled hollow. This geological anomaly is one of the only known areas to be untouched by man and engineering - due to its location outside of central London.
Using a drilling method gifted by Pagani Geotechnical, four cone penetration tests were taken to a depth of 16m at locations across the hollow. Earlier in the project, augering was undertaken at the site down to a maximum depth (and extreme physical exertion) of 4.2m. No further depth was possible due to the stiff underlying clay.
Amy Flynn, PhD at Brunel University London, commented, “It is with thanks to Natural England for allowing us to bring a rig onto site. Together, with SOCOTEC’s drilling expertise and the training of Brunel staff - by Chris White at MGS - in the use of the Pagani penetrometer rig (TG 63-150), this project phase was a drilling success.”
Through the combined expertise and disciplines of SOCOTEC, Brunel University London, Natural England and Pagani Geotechnical, the collaboration resulted in a positive two days in the field to enhance previous knowledge about the variability of the physical characteristics of these features within very close vicinities. Those taking part of the Brunel team included Amy Flynn, Peter Reading and Dr Phillip Collins, alongside SOCOTEC staff – Darren Rackley, Ben Lallament and Platon Kostelletos.
Future works are planned, demonstrating just how successful inter-disciplinary research can be.
If you would like further information on the research project, please get in touch.