Geophysical Surveys

SUMO applies a variety of geophysical techniques to investigate the types of materials and structures below the ground that could be relevant to engineering design and problem resolution.

These are essential in identifying the following:

Air Voids and Cavities

  • Buried vaults

  • Crypts

  • Culverts

  • Sewers

  • Heating ducts

These are just some examples of why voiding can occur and create problems beneath existing buildings. Similarly, swallow holes and subsidence are typical indicators of the existence of voids. This can be found in greenfield sites, roads and brownfield sites. All of which need to be found before they can be resolved.

Buried Mineshafts

Most approximate locations of mine shafts are recorded on historic maps and records having been capped. Although, many remain difficult to find. A geophysical survey can be the most cost effective method of finding them before development work commences.

Buried Fuel Tanks and Air Raid Shelters

The discovery of these hidden items at the construction stage can create health, safety and environmental concerns. As well as this there can be significant cost implications. Their identification and location is essential at the design stage. There may be particular relevance to the redevelopment of brownfield sites.

Characterisation of Land Forms / Geomorphology

Before construction and infrastructure projects start, it often proves necessary to characterise landscape features. This is to assess their suitability for design purposes. This could include attributes such as depth of drift cover to bedrock, body of water profiling and sediment thickness, or the extent of sink hole formation.


Significant areas of voiding can be created where water under pressure has forced its way through masonry and brick linings. Dams and spillways can be easily surveyed using geophysical survey techniques.

Badger Setts

As a protected species, it is important to identify the existence and extent of any badger setts before commencing work.

Also, many geophysical techniques applied in identifying the above features can also be used for the following:

Reinforced Concrete Mapping and Characterisation

Including the location of rebars, thereby enabling the planned location of exploratory boreholes. Also piling for new foundations and strength assessment, where no records are available.

High Frequency Structural Radar

Identifies building features as hidden flues and chimneys. Also embedded historic features and voiding caused by crumbling masonry and water ingress.


View the case studies using Geophysical...


Southampton Station

Buried Mineshaft