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Peat hazards : compression and failure.

Warburton, J. (2020) 'Peat hazards : compression and failure.', in Geological hazards in the UK : their occurrence, monitoring and mitigation. London: Geological Society, pp. 243-257. Engineering geology special publications. (29).


Peat is a low density, highly compressible soil that occurs at the surface or may be buried at depth. Peat is essentially an organic, non-mineral soil resulting from the decay of organic matter. In the UK peat deposits are widespread occurring in a wide variety of upland and lowland environments covering all parts of the country (Figure 1). Peat accumulates wherever suitable conditions occur such as in areas of high (excess) rainfall and where ground drainage is poor leading to high water tables. In these waterlogged areas peat develops where the rate of dry vegetative matter accumulation exceeds the rate of decay. Physiochemical and biochemical processes associated with wetland conditions ensure that the accumulating organic matter decays very slowly safeguarding plant structures that remain partially intact for long periods of time (Bell, 2000). In the UK, temperate peat accumulates slowly, typically 0.2 to 1 mm yr-1 with local rates varying depending on the topography and hydrology of the peat mire (Charman, 2002).

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:Warburton, J. (2020). Peat hazards: compression and failure. In Geological hazards in the UK: their occurrence, monitoring and mitigation. Giles, D.P. & Griffiths, J.S. London: Geological Society. 29: 243-257. © Geological Society of London 2020
Date accepted:01 January 2015
Date deposited:20 October 2016
Date of first online publication:09 June 2020
Date first made open access:06 June 2021

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