UK Thaumasite Problem

The UK Thaumasite Problem

Last updated 23.05.16

The following historical summary is a working progress which details the UK thaumasite problem. The summary includes notes on:

  • Cases of thaumasite sulfate attack in the UK (mostly on foundations of the M5 motorway bridge structures)
  • Publications, research and conferences relating to thaumasite, dating back to 1985
  • On-going remediation of bridge structures in Gloucestershire
  • Technical documents and standards

Sources and Disclaimer

I have tried to link to information sources for each event. If not linked, the source and date of the article (where applicable) is given. The summary does not purport to be complete and whilst I have made every effort to ensure accuracy, mistakes are possible. Caution should be exercised when reading and interpreting these events. Any interpretation or use is at the reader’s risk. Attention should be paid to the original source and its validity. I am not responsible for content hosted outside of pyriteproblem.com. Please get in touch with any corrections, additions or revisions. I welcome any feedback and comments.

Historical Summary

2016

May: NCE magazine includes a feature on the remedial works to M5 bridge foundations damaged by thaumasite sulfate attack as well as a feature on how to identify thaumasite.

April: Stroud News reports that “Standish Lane M5 overbridge to close for more than five months for repair work”. The works are related to thaumasite damage remediation. (26.04.16).

April: RoadTraffic-Technology reports that “Highways England has launched a £13m programme to undertake bridge works around junction 11 on the M5 in Gloucestershire.” The works are related to thaumasite damage remediation. (12.04.16).

2014

December: M5 Gloucestershire Bridges Facebook page uploads a video explaining the thaumasite problem at Piffs Elm Bridge on the M5. (01.12.14).

August: Gov.uk reports that “The Highways Agency will be starting extensive maintenance work at Piffs Elm Bridge, which supports the A4019 over the M5 at junction 10 near Gloucester on Monday, September 15 [2014]”. The maintenance work is related to on-going thaumasite damage remedial works. (29.08.14).

March: Gov.uk reports that “The Highways Agency has announced plans for extensive maintenance work at Piffs Elm Bridge which supports the A4019 over the M5 at junction 10 near Gloucester”. The maintenance work is related to on-going thaumasite damage remedial works. (25.03.14).

March: M5 Gloucestershire Bridges Facebook page uploads a video explaining the thaumasite problems on the M5. (10.03.14).

February: Gov.uk reports that “Road users are advised that essential bridge maintenance work on the M5 between Junctions 10 and 11 will require narrow lanes to be put in place on both carriageways from next Monday, March 3”. The maintenance work is related to on-going thaumasite damage remedial works. (27.02.14).

February: Highways Magazine reports on repairs to M5 bridge foundations (J10-J12) as a result of thaumasite sulfate attack. Highways Magazine (06.02.14).

January: BBC News reports that “Repair work is due to begin on a damaged motorway bridge on the M5 near Gloucester.” The works are related to thaumasite damage remediation. (12.01.14).

January: Gazette Series reports “Five-month road closures for M5 bridges between junctions 10 and 12 by Highways Agency”. The works are related to thaumasite damage remediation. (11.01.14)

Book published featuring the thaumasite damage to M5 bridge foundations: Kurdowski, W. (2014). Cement and concrete chemistry. Springer, London.

2013

Paper published: Brueckner, R., Williamson, S.J., and Clark. (2013). Chemical interactions at the concrete/clay interface due to thaumasite form of sulfate attack. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Geotechnical Engineering.166 (4), 408-414.

January: R&W Civil Engineering undertake “pier and foundation slab repairs by removing and replacing the badly deteriorated concrete” at Coaley Cambridge Overbridge on the M5. Click here to see project details.

2012

Papers published:

Brueckner, R., Williamson, S.J., and Clark. (2012a). The effects of the thaumasite form of sulfate attack on skin friction at the concrete/clay interface. Cement and Concrete Research. 42, 424-430.

Brueckner, R., Williamson, S.J., and Clark. (2012b). Rate of thaumasite form of sulfate attack under laboratory conditions. Cement and Concrete Research. 34, 365-369.

2011

June: Construction Enquirer reports that “£10m rotting bridge needs replacing over M5”. The article refers to the Piffs Elm overbridge which is suffering from thaumasite sulphate attack. (06.06.11).

Book published featuring the M5 thaumasite problems: Grantham, M.G. (2011). Concrete repair: a practical guide. Routledge.

2007

Thesis published: Brueckner, R. (2007). Accelerating the thaumasite form of sulfate attack and an investigation of its effects on skin friction. PhD Thesis, University of Birmingham. Link to full PhD Thesis PDF.

Paper published: Clark, L.A. (2007). The management of the thaumasite form of sulphate attack in the UK. Magazine of Concrete Research. 59 (7), 465-467.

2003

International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete held at the University of Sheffield. (24.06.03). Click here to view conference page. Papers relating to UK problems published:

  1. Byars, E. (2003a). Full-scale foundation simulation and concrete/clay interface testing. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  2. Byars, E. (2003b). Control of thaumasite formation in concrete. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  3. Clark, L. (2003). Thaumasite sulfate attack – the UK experience. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  4. Collard-Jenkins, S.J., Ilett, E., and Pearson-Kirk, D. (2003). Thaumasite investigations to M4 overbridges. Cement and Concrete Research. 25, 1095-1103.
  5. Crammond, N.J. (2003a). The thaumasite form of sulfate attack in the UK. Cement and Concrete Composites. 25, 809-818.
  6. Crammond, N.J. (2003b). Three-year findings from the BRE thaumasite field trial.International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  7. Crammond, N.J., Collett, G.W., and Longworth, T.I. (2003). Thaumasite field trial at Shipston on Stour: three-year preliminary assessment of buried concretes. Cement and Concrete Composites. 25, 1035-1043.
  8. Cripps, J.C. (2003). Effect of weathering on pyritic clay aggressivity. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  9. Floyd, M., Czerewko, M.A., Cripps, J.C., and Spears, D.A. (2003). Pyrite oxidation in Lower Lias Clay at concrete highway structures affected by thaumasite, Gloucestershire, UK. Cement and Concrete Composites. 25, 1015-1024.
  10. Longworth, T.I. (2003a). Contribution of construction activity to aggressive ground conditions causing the thaumasite form of sulfate attack to concrete in pyritic ground. Cement and Concrete Composites. 25, 1005-1013.
  11. Longworth, I. (2003b). Site exposure testing of pyritic Lower Lias Clay. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  12. Loudon, N. (2003). A review of the experience of thaumasite sulfate attack by the UK Highways Agency. Cement and Concrete Composites. 25, 1051-1058.
  13. Sharp, J. (2003). The mechanism of thaumasite formation. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  14. Slater, D., Floyd, M., and Wimpenny, D.E. (2003). A summary of the Highways Agency thaumasite investigation in Gloucestershire: the scope of work and main findings. Cement and Concrete Composites. 25, 1067-1076.
  15. Torres, S.M. (2003). Thaumasite formation in limestone filler cement mortar under sulfate and chloride exposure. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.
  16. Zhou, Q. (2003). The role of pH in thaumasite sulfate attack. International seminar on the thaumasite form of sulfate attack of concrete, University of Sheffield, 24th June 2003. Link to full presentation PDF.

January: Interim Advice Note (IAN) 48/03 published by the Highways Agency, titled “Measures to minimise the risk of sulfate attack (including thaumasite). New construction and structures under construction”. The note superseded IAN 25/99. This document is now withdrawn and superseded by Series 1700 (Dec 2014).

2002

2002-2003: Thaumasite identified as a partial cause of heave of the A10 dual carriageway in Hertfordshire. Click here to read more in Section 5.2.1 of the linked document.

Paper published: Crammond, N.J. (2002a). The occurrence of thaumasite in modern construction – a review. Cement and Concrete Research. 24, 393-402.

Paper Published: Wimpenny, D.E., and Slater, D. (2002). Thaumasite in concrete structures: some UK case studies. In: Dhir, R.K., Jones, M.R., and Zheng, L. (eds.). Repair, Rejuvenation and enhancement of concrete. Thomas Telford, London.

June: 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials held at the BRE, Garston, UK (19-21.06.02). Click here to view conference information. Papers published:

  1. Collard-Jenkins, S.J., Illet, E., and Pearson-Kirk, D. (2002). Thaumasite investigations in foundations to M4 overbridges. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  2. Crammond, N.J. (2002b). The thaumasite form of sulfate attack in the UK. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  3. Crammond, N.J., Collett, G.W., and Longworth, T.I. (2002). Thaumasite field trial at Shipston on Stour: three year preliminary assessment of buried structures. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  4. Eden, M.A. (2002). The laboratory investigation of concrete affected by TSA in the UK. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  5. Floyd, M. (2002). An assessment of UK classifications of aggressive ground conditions using the relative degree of thaumasite sulfate attack measured at buried concrete structures in Gloucestershire, UK. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  6. Floyd, M., Czerewko, M.A., Cripps, J.C., and Spears, D.A. (2002). Pyrite oxidation in Lower Lias Clay at concrete highway structures affected by thaumasite, Gloucestershire, UK. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  7. Floyd, M., and Wimpenny, D.E. (2002). Procedures for assessing thaumasite sulfate attack and adjacent ground conditions at buried concrete structures. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  8. Foundation, E.J. (2002). The myth of thaumasite sulfate attack. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  9. Gorst, N.J.S., and Clark, L.A. (2002). Effects of thaumasite on bond strength of reinforcement in concrete. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  10. Hobbs, D.W. (2002). Thaumasite sulfate attack in field and laboratory concretes: implications for specifications. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  11. Longworth, T.I. (2002). Contribution of construction activity to aggresive ground conditions causing the thaumasite form sulfate attack to concrete in pyritic ground. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  12. Loudon, N. (2002). A review of the experience of thaumasite sulfate attack by the UK Highways Agency. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  13. Nixon, P.J. (2002). New UK guidance on the use of concrete in aggressive ground. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  14. Sibbick, R.G., Crammond, N.J., and Metcalf, D. (2002). The microscopical characterisation of thaumasite. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  15. Sibbick, T., Fenn, D., and Crammond, N.J. (2002). The occurrence of thaumasite as a product of seawater attack. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  16. Sims, I., and Huntley, S.A. (2002). The thaumasite form of sulfate attack – breaking the rules. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  17. Slater, D., Floyd, M., and Wimpenny, D.E. (2002). A summary of the Highways Agency thaumasite investigation in Gloucestershire: the scope of work and main findings. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  18. Slater, D., Knights, J.C., and Wimpenny, D.E. (2002). Sulfate and chloride profiles and the visual characteristics with depth from the face in buried concrete subject to TSA. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  19. Wallace, J. (2002). Finding thaumasite sulfate attack – consequences for works in progress. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  20. White, S.J., Smy, R.H., and Lynch, M. (2002). UK Highways Agency Area 2: managing the threat of thaumasite sulfate attack. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.
  21. Wimpenny, D., and Slater, D. (2002). Evidence from the Highways Agency thaumasite investigation in Gloucestershire to support or contradict postulated mechanisms of thaumasite formation and thaumasite sulfate attack. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Thaumasite in Cementicious Materials. BRE, Garston, UK, June 19th-21st 2002.

March: Thaumasite Expert Group publishes 3-year review of the Thaumasite Expert Group report.

March: Guidance published: Nixon, P., and Crammond, N. (2001). An overview of the thaumasite form of sulfate attack and its significance for highway structures. Technical Paper 1. Concrete Bridge Development Group, Berkshire.

2001

Document published: Nixon, P., and Crammond, N. (2001). An overview of the thaumasite form of sulfate attack and its significance for highway structures. Prepared for the Concrete Bridge Development Group.

2000

March: NCE article reports that thaumasite sulfate attack has been identified on a highway structure outside the high risk Cheltenham-Gloucester area. Link to NCE article (23.03.00).

Thaumasite Expert Group publishes a one-year review of the Thaumasite Expert Group report.

1999

February: NCE magazine reports that “Last month’s Government report on thaumasite sulphate attack may have helped to allay industry fears.” (11.02.1999).

January: Thaumasite Expert Group publishes report titled “The thaumasite form of sulfate attack: Risks, diagnosis, remedial works and guidance on new construction”. This is known informally as “The Thaumasite Report”.

Paper published: Longworth, I. (1999). Responding to thaumasite form sulfate attack. Ground Engineering April 1999. pp. 24-25.

Paper published: Halliwell, M.A., and Crammond, N.J. (1999). Avoiding the thaumasite form of sulfate attack. Read online here.

1998

May: Construction News reports that “The Highways Agency has outlawed the use of limestone aggregates in below-ground concrete structures on all of its projects where high sulphate levels are present in the soil.” (28.05.98).

May: Construction News reports of a “Thaumasite alert on M5 interchange”. (14.05.98).

April: Construction News reports “The Government has commissioned a panel of experts to investigate the appearance of a rare form of sulphate attack in bridge foundations at the M5 Golden Valley Interchange in Gloucestershire.” (09.04.98).

April: NCE article reports that “industry ignored warnings on thaumasite threat”. NCE (16.04.98).

Spring: Thaumasite sulfate attack found in the foundation concrete of 10 motorway bridges in Gloucestershire.

1996

Paper published on the occurrence of thaumasite sulfate attack of tunnel linings in London. Reference: Bracegirdle, A., Jefferis, S.A., Tedd, P., Crammond, N.J., Chudleigh, I., and Burgess, N. (1996). The investigation of acid generation within the Woolwich and Reading beds at Old Street and its effect on tunnel linings. In: Mair and Taylor (Eds.). Proceedings of the International Symposium on Soft Ground Tunelling. City University, London. Pp. 653-658.

1995

Paper published: Crammond, N.J., and Halliwell, M.A. (1995). The thaumasite form of sulfate attack in concretes containing a source of carbonate ions – a microstructural overview. In: Second Symposium on Advances in Concrete Technology. pp. 357–80.

1993

Deterioration of concrete foundation piles due to thaumasite formation reported by Crammond and Nixon. Reference: Crammond, N.J., and Nixon, P.J. (1993). Deterioration of concrete foundation piles as a result of thaumasite formation. 6th Conference on the Durability of Building Materials. Japan. Volume 1. pp. 295-305.

1990

December: Construction News reports that “The lime heave found on a newly constructed section of the M40 in Oxfordshire has reduced the design life of the road by up to 10 per cent…” The article refers to sulfate-heave of lime-stabilized formation. (13.12.90).

1989

Heave (partly) as a result of thaumasite formation identified on the M40 motorway Banbury IV Contract. Click here to read discussion on Google Books.

1985

Paper published: Crammond, N.J. (1985). Thaumasite in failed cement mortar and renders from exposed brickwork. Cement and Concrete Research. 15, 1039-1050.