EGU24-1818, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The hydrogeological units of Vienna - land use, groundwater use and groundwater chemistry

Sebastian Pfleiderer
Sebastian Pfleiderer
  • GeoSphere Austria, Austria (

Information on urban groundwater in Vienna is important not only to secure a sustainable use and supply but also to protect groundwater quality. Here, we provide a compilation of available information and data to cover all relevant aspects of hydrogeology within the city in order to improve planning and policy making with regard to water extraction, geothermal use and groundwater protection.

We propose a grouping of the Quaternary and Neogene sediments as well as of the underlying sedimentary rocks of the Flysch zone and the Calcareous Alps, into hydrogeological units with distinct properties. Each unit is described regarding lithology, aquifer type, groundwater occurrence and yield. Additionally, the area percentage of sealed ground surface and the conditions of groundwater recharge are defined. Finally, the types of groundwater use, withdrawal rates, hydrochemical signatures and heavy metal contents are characterized.

Limestones and dolomites of the Calcareous Alps represent high yield karst aquifers with calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate-type hydrochemistry, used as spa water drawn from 800 m deep, artesian wells.

Within the Flysch zone, clay- and marlstones act as aquitards while sandstones constitute fractured or double-porosity aquifers which are partially confined, of low yield and used locally for drinking water, industrial water and irrigation. At the surface, the zone occurs in the Vienna Woods, where groundwater recharge through rain water can be high within sandstone areas.

Where Neogene silts and clays contain sand and gravel layers, these represent porous aquifers of low to medium yield, used mainly for irrigation, industrial water and geothermal purposes. Groundwater recharge from the surface is impeded by a thick loess cover. In the eastern part of the city, groundwater in a conglomerate layer of 300 m thickness and 3000 m below ground, reaches temperatures of up to 100°C and is considered Vienna’s future geo-energy reservoir.

Pleistocene terraces are made of gravel and, with decreasing age, show decreasing amounts of sand and silt intercalations, while the groundwater shows increasing yield, increasing mineralisation and major ion contents shifting from Ca and Mg dominance towards more Na and K. The terraces’ occurrence coincides with intense urban land use, sealing of the ground surface, low recharge and potential infiltration of leaking sewage water.

Within the Danube plain, 60 % of the land is used for agriculture and recreation where rain water can infiltrate easily into Holocene gravel. Recharge also happens partially through river bank filtrate of the Danube, partially through artificial recharge. Among all groundwater units in Vienna, this continuous aquifer shows the highest yield and the most intense use for irrigation and groundwater heat pumps. During peak periods of water demand, groundwater is also used as drinking water.

Vienna’s water consumption amounts to 200 litres per person per day approximatively. In periods of normal demand, drinking water is provided exclusively by Alpine karst springs captured up to 120 km southwest of the city.

How to cite: Pfleiderer, S.: The hydrogeological units of Vienna - land use, groundwater use and groundwater chemistry, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-1818,, 2024.