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

Current projects

DFG project MARZIPAN: 07/2018-06/2021
Short summary of the project

DFG project ESTIMATE: 03/2018-02/2021
Short summary of the project

DFG project INCIDENT: 01/2019-12/2021
Short summary of the project

Urban Catchments: 01/2017-12/2018

Integrated Project T53: From Models to Predictions

Integrated Project T34: Water Scarcity

Integrated Project T31: Catchment Dynamics

Finished projects

Brine-migration in the Tiberias Basin - TBMOD

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.

Erik Nixdorf Erik Nixdorf, M.Sc.

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.

Jasper Bathmann, M.Sc.

Jasper Bathmann studied Physics at the University of Dresden. In his master thesis he focussed on research about fluctuations in Epithelia and developed a simulation model together with researchers from the Francis Crick Institute London (Prof. Dr. G. Salbreux) at the laboratory of Theoretical Physics of Biology. He is now working as a PhD researcher on the coupling of individual-based and continuum models.

Dipl.-Ing. Martin Binder

Martin Binder studied Water Management at TU Dresden. In his Diploma thesis (2013), the influence of diffusive mass transfer on selected chemical processes in dual porosity systems was systematically assessed employing both laboratory-scale experiments and reactive model simulations. Until December 2018, he investigated the transport behavior of multi-component tracers as research fellow of Prof. Dr. R. Liedl at the Institute of Groundwater Management (TU Dresden). Since January 2019, as a new member of ENVINF and research fellow of JProf. Dr. M. Walther, he researches the interaction of sewer and groundwater systems. He has a notable expertise on both laboratory-/field-scale experimental work (focus: tracer applications including stable isotopes) and on hydrogeological modeling (focus: analytical models).

Christian Engelmann, M.Sc.

Christian Engelmann studied Hydrology at the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. The topic of his Master thesis (2013) was related to systematic data analysis of high-resolution eddy covariance measurements to evaluate the applicability of Taylor´s frozen turbulence hypothesis in the unstable atmospheric boundary layer. Since October 2015, after re-orientation to groundwater hydrology, he is research fellow of Prof. Dr. R. Liedl and JProf. M. Walther at the Institute of Groundwater Management (TU Dresden). Besides his current work in an applied research project dealing with modeling of heat transport in urban subsurface systems by coupling numerical transport simulations with (semi-)analytical dynamic boundary conditions, he mainly focuses on multi-phase experimental investigations and numerical simulations to understand the influence of DNAPL source zone geometries on contaminant plumes as a guest scientist at the UFZ Department Environmental Informatics.

Former team members

Martin Pohl Martin Pohl, M.Sc.

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 until the end of 2018. His research was 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.