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Hydrogeology

Hydrogeology deals with the subsurface water and its interdependencies with the water cycle components at the land surface. Hydrogeological research at the Institute of Earth Sciences particularly – but not only – addresses groundwater in the alpine region (alpine hydrogeology).

The Alps are said to be the water tower of Europe. Precipitation, which is increased within the Alps relative to the foreland, is temporarily stored not only in form of snow and glacial as well as periglacial ice, but also within unconsolidated sediments and hard rocks. Through surface and subsurface flow into valleys and basins, alpine water resources also provide a relevant contribution to surface waters and groundwater bodies of the foreland. Against the background of climate change, an area of conflict has increasingly developed throughout the last decades between sustainable use and protection of water resources and increasing water demand, for instance, in agriculture and tourism.

The protection and sustainable use of alpine water resources requires well-founded knowledge of aquifer properties, groundwater recharge and groundwater flow and transport processes. To investigate and characterize aquifers we develop and apply a wide range of methods from experimental techniques such as tracer tests to monitoring of spring waters and groundwater observation wells to computer-based analysis and simulation.

Univ.-Prof. Dr.rer.nat.

Steffen Birk

Institut für Erdwissenschaften
Phone:+43 316 380 - 5583


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