Karst and Alpine Hydrogeolgy
Karst aquifers contribute an estimated 25 % to the global drinking water supply. At the same time, they are particularly vulnerable to pollution. Contaminants, including pathogenic microorganisms, can easily enter the underground through shallow soils and open fractures and spread in a network of conduits and caves in the aquifer, often towards large karst springs.
We focus on the hydrogeological investigation and characterization of karst aquifer systems, often using a combination of continuous monitoring, artificial and natural tracers and mathematical modeling approached. On this basis we are developing concepts for the sustainable protection of karst water resources for human use and healthy ecosystems.
There is a regional focus on alpine karst systems that are characterized by high variability and complexity, but we also work in other European regions and in international cooperation projects, such as the compilation of the first World Karst Aquifer Map.
Block diagram illustrating the hydrogeological functioning of a karst aquifer (Goldscheider & Drew 2007)