Towards an improved understanding of transport processes governing the spatiotemporal dynamics of particles and fecal bacteria in karst aquifers (IMPART)

Project description:

The main objective of the IMPART project is to use high-resolution monitoring and multi-tracer experiments to gain deeper insights into the transport processes that determine the spatial and temporal dynamics of particles, organic carbon and faecal bacteria in karst systems. The study area is the Blautopf in the Swabian Alb and the connected Blue Cave System, where two accessible water caves allow direct observation of flow, water quality and transport processes within the active conduit network.


Karst aquifers contribute significantly to the water supply in many regions, cities and countries. They are formed by chemical dissolution in carbonate rocks and consist of a network of conduits and caves embedded in the fissured rock matrix. Contaminants, including faecal and pathogenic bacteria, can be transported rapidly over long distances within the conduit network and can reach wells or springs largely unhindered.


Therefore, the generally good water quality of karst springs is often interrupted by short but strong contamination events. Suspended mineral particles and organic carbon play a distinct role in the mobilisation and transport of faecal bacteria and other contaminants. However, the exact processes and their spatial and temporal variability are far from being fully understood.


The results of the IMPART project will provide a better understanding of the transport processes and microbial water quality dynamics of karst aquifers as a basis for an improved management of these valuable but vulnerable resources.

Blautopf in Blaubeuren