KARST: Predicting flow and transport in complex Karst systems

Karst aquifers are a treasure and a threat: while up to 25% of the world population depends on them for drinking water, they also have capabilities for extremely fast conduction of water and contaminants. In the light of climate change, we need to prepare for extreme flooding and understand the consequences for karst aquifers. Despite their socio-economic importance, decades of research, and high-profile disasters, karst structures and processes remain notoriously difficult to assess. Because of the complexity of karst and its lack of accessibility, the foundations of flow and transport modeling in karst systems are weak. Key phenomena related to extreme events such as flash floods and heavy tails in tracer recovery are still beyond current modeling capabilities.

KARST will establish the next generation of coupled stochastic modeling frameworks to predict karst processes, assess the vulnerability of karst aquifers, and forecast their response to extreme events. Our approach will bridge structures and processes on all scales, far beyond the capabilities of current theories and computer simulations. This will be achieved by targeting three key objectives: (i) Identification and quantification of flow and transport dynamics at the conduit scale. (ii) Characterization and modeling of karst network structure at the catchment scale. (iii) Derivation of a new upscaled approach to predict karst processes at different resolution scales. Together, this will result in an unprecedented multiscale modeling framework for the prediction of flow and transport in karst.

– IDAEA-CSIC (Spain): Marco Dentz (corresponding PI)
– IFPEN (France): Benoit Noetinger (PI)
– University of Neuchatel: (Switzerland): Philippe Renard (PI)
– University of Ljubljana (Slovenia): Bojan Mohar (PI)
– INRIA (France): Sylvain Lefebvre
– Simon Fraser University (Canada): Bojan Mohar

Start Date: 01/05/2023 – End Date: 30/04/2029

Funded by the European Union (ERC, KARST, 101071836). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.