Environmental Geology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 505–512 | Cite as

Halite karst geohazards (natural and man-made) in the United Kingdom

  • Anthony H. Cooper
Original Article


In the United Kingdom, Permian and Triassic halite (rock salt) deposits have been affected by natural and artificial dissolution producing karstic landforms and subsidence. Brine springs from the Triassic salt have been exploited since Roman times or possibly earlier, indicating prolonged natural dissolution. Medieval salt extraction in England is indicated by the names of places ending in "wich", indicating brine spring exploitation at Northwich, Middlewich, Nantwich and Droitwich. Later, Victorian brine extraction in these areas accentuated salt karst development, causing severe subsidence problems which remain a legacy. The salt was also mined, but the mines flooded and consequent brine extraction caused the workings to collapse, resulting in catastrophic surface subsidence. Legislation was enacted to pay for the damage and a levy is still charged for salt extraction. Some salt mines are still collapsing, and the re-establishment of the post-brine extraction hydrogeological regimes means that salt springs may again flow, causing further dissolution and potential collapse.

Halite Salt Subsidence Geohazards Salt springs Brine Brine extraction United Kingdom 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony H. Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, UK

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