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Behaviour of karst hydrogeological systems (BEKARST): Groundwater flow, particle transport, microorganisms and radioisotopes (Subprojects: A - KARSTDYN, B - KARSTMOD, C - RADIOKARST, D - GLACIKARST)

English title Behaviour of karst hydrogeological systems (BEKARST): Groundwater flow, particle transport, microorganisms and radioisotopes (Subprojects: A - KARSTDYN, B - KARSTMOD, C - RADIOKARST, D - GLACIKARST)
Applicant Zwahlen François
Number 113609
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Centre d'hydrogéologie et de géothermie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.10.2006 - 30.09.2008
Approved amount 556'209.00
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Keywords (12)

Karst hydrodynamics; groundwater quality; organic carbon; solute and particle transport; tracer tests; bacteria; hydrogeology; karst; contamination; particles; microorganisms; numerical model

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Karst aquifers are among the most important drinking water resources for humanity. At the same time, due to their special characteristics (extreme anisotropy and heterogeneity), they are particularly vulnerable to contamination. The project BEKARST aims at a better understanding of flow, solute transport and biological processes in karst hydrogeology systems.It is subdivided into three sub-projects: KARSTDYN, KARSTMOD and GLACIKARST.
KARSTDYN: The dynamics and interaction of organic carbon, microorganism and mineral particles in karst flow systems implies different processes that we identify and better understand. The site is fully equipped with measurement instruments (continuous data records of OC, turbidity, temperature, conductivity and discharge, as well as standard hydrochemical and microbiological parameters from water samples) and an online Particle Counter also record continuously the particle-size distribution (PSD) of the spring water. The microbial communities in the aquifer system and their variability during flood events are also caracterised by using different methods such as PCR-DGGE.
KARSTMOD: Flow in karst is largely conditioned by flow through conduits.Complex networks of conduits, as present in karst networks, induce a specific behaviour to karst hydrological systems, especially strong non-linearity. Numerical models able to cope with such complex networks are being developed based on the resolution of the Saint-Venant equations.
GLACIKARST: The impact of a retreating alpine glacier on groundwater flow and transport processes in a directly linked karst aquifer is effective in the Tsanfleuron area (Western Swiss Alps), which consists of a karst aquifer partly overlained by a glacier. The project will assess the impact of hazards on the groundwater quality and highlight the role of ice and snow for the storage and remobilisation of contaminants. Glacier meltwaters are characterised by high contents of suspended mineral particles. Turbidity in karst groundwater may also result from soil erosion and remobilisation of sediments in the conduit network. The project will investigate the different types of turbidity and the mechanisms of particle transport, as well as the relation between turbidity and bacteria transport.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
105427 Behaviour of Karst Hydrogeological Systems: BEKARST - hydraulic, chemical, physical and microbial dynamics (3 subrojects: A-BIOKARST, B-KARSTMOD and C-KARSTDYN) 01.10.2004 Project funding
121726 GLACIKARST - role of glaciers and snow in groundwater flow-dynamics and transport processes in alpine karst aquifer systems 01.10.2008 Project funding