Fractured-porous and karstified aquifers constitute because of their specific geometries and hydraulic characteristics one of the most challenging systems to study in terms of flow and transport dynamics. Furthermore, they can be expected to respond highly sensitive to environmental stressors in the face of climate change because of their generally high hydraulic conductivity and low storage capacity.
The internal dynamics and the interaction between hydrological and hydrogeological compartments such as land surface, soil cover, epikarstic, vadose, and phreatic zone determine the input signal transformation into the subsurface and hence the short- and long-term response of groundwater head and spring discharge. Preferential pathways such as conduits, fractures, fracture networks, faults, and macropores strongly affect travel-time distributions, system vulnerability, connectivity of surface-subsurface ecosystems, and require adapted strategies for sustainable groundwater management of the above systems. Specifically, in fractured and karstified porous aquifer systems, with the thickness of the vadose zone typically ranging between just a few meters and several hundred meters, rapid and locally focused preferential flow is an important factor controlling recharge dynamics. The analysis of flow and transport in fractured and karstified aquifers is often complicated due to the typically sparse and uncertain field data and a range of mathematical models is required to capture processes at an appropriate level of detail for a given aquifer system.
This session welcomes research with a focus on fractured and karstified aquifers covering all related temporal and spatial scales from field studies to laboratory investigations. Characterization methods including numerical and analytical methods, geophysical approaches, and analytical or numerical methods that target the complex infiltration and recharge processes. Research addressing phreatic flow and transport dynamics are also part of this session.