NCE: Thaumasite damage to M5 bridge foundations

Thaumasite Damage to M5 Bridge Foundation Concrete

This month’s issue of New Civil Engineer (May 2016), the magazine of the Institution of Civil Engineers, features the long-term remedial works to the concrete foundations of overbridges along the M5 in southern England, UK, as a result of thaumasite damage.

In the article, titled “Concrete Concern – Long term rescue effort underway for M5 bridges with crumbling foundations”, Dave Parker (of NCE) discusses the background to the UK thaumasite problem, the extent of damaged bridges and the on-going remedial programme. The full article can be found on the NCE website by clicking here. The article is linked to a further article within the May 2016 issue of NCE, titled “Debilitating Condition – How to spot thaumasite concrete damage“.

Summary of the UK M5 Thaumasite problems

Below is a brief summary of the M5 thaumasite damage problems. A detailed summary of the UK thaumasite problem, together with technical information on published papers and associated conference, can be found under the ‘Case Histories’ section of, by clicking here.

  • Concrete foundations for M5 overbridges back-filled with pyritic Lower Lias clays (1960s).
  • Thaumasite sulfate attack found in the foundation concrete of 10 motorway bridges in Gloucestershire in Spring 1998.
  • Around 30 bridges thought to be affected in Gloucestershire.
  • NCE report that Highways England aim to remediate at least 15 bridges by 2018.

More Information

A brief list of key publications pertaining to the M5 Thaumasite damage problems:

The thaumasite form of sulfate attack: Risks, diagnosis, remedial works and guidance on new construction. This is known informally as “The Thaumasite Report” and was published in January 2009.

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

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

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