Complex Groundwater Systems:
Modeling & Development

The work topic Complex Groundwater Systems strives to enhance knowledge on subsurface water bodies by employing simulation-based approaches to identify relevant processes altering system states. Our scientific focus captures various aspects of THC modeling (thermo, hydraulic, chemical), including variable-density flow, multiphase systems, reactive transport, and interactions with adjacent water bodies and hydrological compartments. It is our goal to provide solutions for small to regional scale applications and carry out generic studies of intricate subsurface systems to concurrently increase understanding of local, highly complex systems and offer process insight to enhance applications in catchment+ size scopes. Moreover, with the new generation of monitoring and exploration technologies and the arising significant increase of model input data both in size and complexity, we aim to improve the effectiveness and performance of model-aided data analysis to quantify uncertainties and sensitivities.

Our goal is to develop and apply new computational methods and numerical models for flow and transport associated with environmental subsurface systems. Our expertise is the development of software solutions to enable the simulation of strongly coupled hydraulic, thermal, and chemical reactive processes in structural heterogeneous porous and fractured media. In order to master the challenges sustainably, we endeavor to develop goal-oriented solutions that still will be valuable to a larger community and a wider range of applications. One example of this is our contributions to the open-source community project OpenGeoSys, which is used among other things as a system and scenario analysis tool in IWRM frameworks.

The following studies are currently being pursued in collaboration with partners from universities and research institutes:

  • The 3-dimensional analyses of variable-density & viscosity (thermohaline) processes in near-coastal subsurface hydrosystems and faulted basins
  • The role of hydrogeological heterogeneity in transport modeling, for instance, the influence of physical and chemical aquifer heterogeneity on nitrate-reduction processes by numerical simulations
  • The development of frameworks to simulate basin-scale, density-driven flow processes
  • The development of formulas to predict critical Rayleigh numbers in faulted basins
  • The implementation of hydrogeochemical methodologies to better constrain input data and numerical results
  • The development of random walk particle tracking methods for reactive transport modeling in large groundwater systems
  • Assessing biogeochemical reactions at the stream-groundwater interface using transient reactive transport modeling (TERENO Observatory Harz/Central German Lowland, Selke River)
  • The implementation of process-based load balancing for parallel reactive transport simulations

Brine-migration in the Tiberias Basin - TBMOD

Urban Catchments

Integrated Project T53: From Models to Predictions

Integrated Project T34: Water Scarcity

Integrated Project T31: Catchment Dynamics

Marc Walther JProf. Dr. Marc Walther

Marc Walther is Junior-Professor for Contaminant Hydrology at the Technische Universität Dresden, Institute for Groundwater Management in joint appointment with the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department Environmental Informatics. After his Diploma study of Hydrology at the TU Dresden, with internships in Graz, Austria (Joanneum Research) and Uppsala, Sweden (Uppsala Universitet) on modelling variable-saturated flow in the subsurface, he received his PhD on density-driven flow processes within the project IWAS (International Water Research Alliance Saxony). His current research interests focus on water quality and quantity issues in coastal areas, especially in (semi-)arid regions, where groundwater often is the only available resource, endangered by exploitation and contamination. In particular, he investigates the non-trivial interaction of the non-linear processes and the uncertainty of aquifer properties (parameter bandwidths and distributions).

Thomas Kalbacher Dr. Thomas Kalbacher

Dr. Thomas Kalbacher studied Geology at the Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, Germany and received his PhD in Natural Science (D.Sc.) for his work on geometric modeling of complex natural systems. His PhD was awarded with a two year Alexander v. Humboldt / JSPS Research Fellowship, which he spent as researcher and lecturer at the Okayama University in Japan. He has been a staff member of the Department of Environmental Informatics since 2009 and is the current deputy head. His research interests include computational environmental system analysis and focus on the software and method development for advanced and accelerated numerical hydrogeochemical simulations in heterogeneous subsurface. His work is directly related to water resource management (quantity and quality), agriculture and model-based field investigations.

Fabien Magri PD. Dr. Fabien Magri

Dr. Fabien Magri studied Physics at the University of Milan, Italy. In his master thesis he developed a 2D+ model of river/groundwater interactions in the Maggia Valley, Switzerland. During his Ph.D. at the FU Berlin and GFZ Potsdam, he extended the study of large-scale groundwater flow to heat and solute transport in the German Basin. He successfully applied to DFG grants that allowed him to deepen the understanding of geothermal heat migration in faulted basins of Western Turkey and Jordan Valley. Currently, he is the project leader of a DFG trilateral project aimed to investigate the salinization processes within the Tiberias Basin, Israel (TBMOD), in co-operation with Israel and Jordan. He lectures modelling courses of fluid transport processes as “Privat Dozent” at the FU Berlin, Hydrogeology. Other research interests include hydrochemical methods to constrain input data and modelling results, water management, hydro-mechanical models, and linear stability analysis.

Eunseon Jang MSc Eunseon Jang

Eunseon Jang obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from KyungHee University, South Korea in 2010 and Master’s in Geochemistry from Korea University and Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), South Korea in 2013. She joined the UFZ in April 2013 as a PhD student, and her PhD topic focuses on reactive transport modeling with OpenGeoSys and Iphreeqc. Her research interests lay in the research fields of transport and fate of contaminants in subsurface systems and her current research focuses on implications of physical and chemical heterogeneity on groundwater pollutants’ transport and geochemical processes (e.g. redox transformation).

Erik Nixdorf MSc Erik Nixdorf

Erik Nixdorf received his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Energy Process Engineering from the University of Magdeburg in 2011 and obtained his Master’s degree in Hydro Science and Engineering from TU Dresden in 2014. Joining the Environmental Informatics department in 2014, he is currently working on the numerical modelling of hydro-chemical transport in the subsurface, with emphasis on field-scale application and the consideration of subsurface heterogeneities and reactive transport schemes. His work also serves as our contribution to the international cooperation project SUSTAIN H2O, which provides pollution discharge management for water quality improvement in the Song-Liao Catchment in northeast China.

Martin Pohl MSc Martin Pohl

Martin Pohl received his Bachelor's degree and his Master's degree in Water Management from the Technical University Dresden. Shortly after his graduation in late 2016, he joined the Institute for Groundwater Management at the TU Dresden and became a guest scientist at the UFZ Department of Environmental Informatics in early 2017. His current research is focused on the Work Package E of the Urban Catchments project, which aims at the creation of a regional groundwater model for the catchment area of Chaohu Lake including the simulation of Microcystin transport and reaction processes.