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Went live onTitleReference
22 Aug 2008Chalk is good at filtering out pollution from groundwater, but some areas let contaminants throughSID0116
Synopsis
Most of Britain's chalk aquifer has a large capacity for reducing pollution entering groundwater, but where streams sink into the ground dissolved material and viruses could enter domestic supplies relatively quickly.
Description
Chalk provides the most important aquifer for water supplies in Britain. Research shows that many areas of chalk also effectively filter out pollution, but that other areas let contaminants through rapidly.

Timothy Atkinson, of University College London, and colleagues added different types of artificial tracers to wells and naturally disappearing streams in an area of chalk in Berkshire. Their aim was to see how contaminants might behave.

They found that in many places chalk has a large capacity for reducing concentrations of contaminants entering groundwater. But in a few places, especially where streams sink into the ground, viruses and dissolved materials could get into groundwater without this filtering effect. Springs and boreholes in such areas could potentially become contaminated.

This research was supported by NERC's LOCAR (Lowland Catchment Research) programme.
Impacts
Research and funding
Funding typeResearch Programme
Date of researchJune 2003 - May 2007
Researchers at Universities
Grant referenceNER/T/S/2001/00956   
InvestigatorProfessor T AtkinsonUniversity College London, Earth Sciences
Co-investigatorMrs AT WilliamsNERC British Geological Survey, NERC BGS - Wallingford
Co-investigatorProfessor JA BarkerUniversity College London, Earth Sciences
Classification
Science themesSustainable use of natural resources, Environment, pollution and human health
Science areasEarth, Freshwater
Policy areasNatural resources, Pollution, Water, Health
KeywordsChalk