Trench construction and engineering geology on the Western Front, 1914–18

Journal article


Doyle, P (2018). Trench construction and engineering geology on the Western Front, 1914–18. Geological Society.
AuthorsDoyle, P
Abstract

Trench warfare became associated with the First World War from late 1914 until 1918. Where possible, trenches were laid out by military engineers in line with the most recent military manuals. The effectiveness of individual trenches was to a large extent controlled by the nature of the ground conditions.
Engineering geology had a major role to play in: slope stability—as the ideal for trenches was to maintain slopes in an over-steepened condition relative to normal angle of repose; and, drainage—as excess surface and ground waters not
only weakened trench slopes but also created untenable conditions for the troops occupying their positions. Recent archaeological investigations around
the city of Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium, and in northern France provide opportunities to examine slope engineering and drainage solutions for trenches in Palaeogene clay/silt sediments and Cretaceous chalk. In Flanders, the failure
of slope engineering early war led to the creation of ‘A’ frames to support slopes at the required batter, with the provision of drainage channels beneath duckboard walkways. In northern France, where frost-shattered chalk was close
to the surface, drainage and slope support was less of a problem, though trenches cut through thick Quaternary deposits similarly required imaginative solutions.

Year2018
JournalGeological Society
ISSN0305-8719
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1144/SP473.6
Publication dates
Print06 Mar 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Apr 2019
Accepted06 Mar 2018
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
Page rangeSP473.6-SP473.6
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