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Farringdon Station

London, England


Like most Londoners, I travel through the geology underlying my city every day without giving it a second thought. But developing 21st century infrastructure for our cities would be impossible without a good understanding of this geology.

I love Farringdon Station because it epitomises the link between the engineering geology and history of London. It was a terminus of the world’s first underground railway – the Metropolitan Railway, opened in January 1863.

Its prominence may have waned since then, but with the expected completion of the Crossrail and Thameslink projects in 2018, it will be one of the busiest stations in the country.

It has come a long way from its cut-and-cover origins – geologists are now using innovative 3D geological models to help manage the risks and costs of constructing Crossrail tunnels underneath existing infrastructure through the faulted Lambeth Group and Thanet Sand Formation units at Farringdon.

Text: Nic Bilham

Nominated by: Nic Bilham

FarringdonThe British Geological Survey has constructed a high-resolution geological model of the Crossrail Station at Farringdon, particularly focusing on the faulted bedrock. Understanding the faulting pattern was essential because it enabled the engineers to predict the potential occurrence of water-filled sand bodies, which are hazardous if excavated.

During excavation, the geological model was validated and updated frequently. The outcome was an improved understanding and recognition of a complex fault pattern, optimised future ground investigation and had a significant impact upon the assessment of risks for construction, design and final costs.

Watch a flythrough of the Crossrail tunnels

Video from the Crossrail Project

Watch the British Geological Survey's video on the Geology under London:

100 Great Geosites

Related Links

Further reading

Images (top to bottom):

  • Construction of the Metropolitan Railway from the Illustrated London News, 1861 © P Justyne (Source Wikimedia Commons) Public Domain
  • Farringdon Station, from the Illustrated London News 1866 (Source Wikimedia Commons) Public Domain
Earth Science Week

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October 13 - 21
Theme: 'Earth Science in our lives'