A sound understanding of any site is required before an investigation can be designed, the Desk Study (or Phase I investigation) is therefore arguably the most important part of any site investigation. It is the foundation upon which the rest of the investigation is built and is essential to developing a ‘Preliminary Conceptual Site Model’. The Conceptual Site Model is a description of the site and its setting, providing us, regulators and the client a simple image of the site, which can be developed and added to as more information becomes available.
The desk study provides information on a site’s geology, hydrogeology and current setting. It also researches the site history, what it was used for and when, and considers potential receptors and pathways. Putting this together tells us what could be impacted, how and by what.
The site history helps us to decide what potential contaminants may be present and where, what the likelihood of contamination is and how significant that contamination may be. The preliminary Conceptual Site Model can then be developed based on the potential contaminants present, potential receptors and the likelihood of pathways linking these two factors.
When possible we also undertake a site walkover, so we can see the site first hand and get a better ‘feel’ for it. Some information is just not available from site plans and historical information and assessing a site in this way can also provide an insight on issues that may arise should an intrusive ground investigation be required.
When all of this information is put together, with experience and background knowledge, we can compile an assessment ready to decide whether a Phase II, ground investigation is needed.
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