Sessions & Topics

The General theme of the congress is “INSPIRING GROUNDWATER”.

The history of the world shows that water and groundwater have constantly inspired mankind to develop techniques for the production of drinking water, to transport water to people, to the control of water courses, to the search for new sources, to combat scarcity. Access to safe water in sufficient quantities is essential to mankind, to prosperity and economic development. Let the past inspire us to prepare a better future, let our failures inspire us to constantly improve our techniques, let our children inspire us to give our grandchildren a better planet, and let research inspire us to turn the challenges due to climate changes into opportunities and to make groundwater part of the solution towards a society without fossil energy sources.


1. Groundwater/surface water interaction
This session invites contributions on all different processes relevant for the interaction between groundwater and surface water in riparian, hyporheic and benthic zones: hydrological, physical, chemical, biological, … Advances in field methods, laboratory experiments and modeling approaches are welcome.

2. Hydrogeochemistry, groundwater age, paleogroundwater and isotopes in hydrogeology
Hydrogeochemical parameters and isotopes are highly informative tracers to determine the origin of groundwater, its pathway through the aquifer and residence time, and the processes that are affecting its composition. This composition or groundwater quality influences the use of the resource. This session calls for contributions related to the assessment of groundwater quality and the understanding of processes that determine groundwater composition, including groundwater age dating.

3. Groundwater contamination
Human activities have introduced high amounts of synthetic compounds into the water cycle, by diffuse or point-source pollution. Concern about this topic is growing as we learn more about their persistence, and their toxicity at very low concentrations. This session will cover different aspects: (1) novel monitoring approaches, (2) identifying the sources of diffuse or point-source pollution; (3) understanding contaminant transport (4) (bio)degradation of noxious compounds.

4. Hydrogeophysics
Hydrogeophysics has recently emerged as a new, interdisciplinary field of sciences that aims to increase the understanding of hydrological processes through geophysical methods complementary to traditionally collected data on hydraulics, geology or soil. Geophysical surveys are designed to acquire spatially distributed data related to the subsurface such as its structure (e.g., conceptualization of the aquifer), hydraulic properties (such as porosity and hydraulic conductivity) and their spatial distribution or the monitoring of physical properties of the aquifer (e.g., saturation, salinity or concentration of certain compounds, temperature) at greater spatial and time resolution. However, the integration of geophysical data into the hydrogeological framework is challenging. It requires the development of innovative and advanced data integration and inversion schemes and the analysis of petrophysical relationships. The hydrogeophysics session will focus on new experimental developments and case studies at the various scales relevant for hydrogeology, as well as on recent methodological  development for the interpretation of hydrogeophysical data sets. Recent developments in measuring technologies allow the collection of more detailed information over a wider area and with a greater temporal resolution (big data of various types). This advances our ability to understand complex groundwater systems. This could be the beginning of a new era for hydrogeology!

5. Groundwater and climate change
This session generally focuses on the impact of climate change on groundwater. It includes new contributions related to the assessment of the influence of climate change on groundwater recharge and groundwater resources. It covers original results about monitoring networks, observation of the current impact of climate change on groundwater, on modelling and prediction of the way climate change will influence groundwater, evaluation of inherent uncertainty. Contributions may focus on short-or long-term impact, induced variability of recharge, effect of extreme events such as longer and recurrent droughts. It also covers contributions about impact assessment on specific regions of the world.

6. Geothermal and hydro-energy
The management of energy production is in constant evolution, in order to face socio-economic and environmental challenges. New sources of energy are increasingly used and integrated to meet total demand. This session aims to group original contributions about geothermal energy, and the use of groundwater for hydro-energy. The range of possible topics is wide and covers contributions from shallow geothermal to deep geothermal systems, for district heating or electricity production. It includes different aspects related to the characterization of geothermal processes, from characterization to numerical modelling and predictions. This session is also open to contributions that provide new insights regarding new applications where groundwater is used for hydro-energy production. It comprises subsurface storage of heat or the use of groundwater in pump – storage systems, with a specific focus on hydrogeological processes and impacts.

7. Karst and fractured rock hydrogeology
It is well known that fractured and karstic aquifers are the most productive, the most vulnerable and, due to heterogeneities, the most difficult aquifers to investigate, to characterize and to model. In this session, we invite contributors to share their experience in innovative techniques of investigation used to  characterize fissured or karstic media and applied to complex case studies including the epikarstic environment. In terms of vulnerability, special attention will be devoted to the surface – groundwater interactions in karstic environments. Water supply production or mine dewatering case studies conducted in karstic media as well as applied methodologies are welcome. Furthermore, this session focuses on mathematical models of groundwater flow applied to complex aquifer systems.

8. Managed aquifer recharge – co-organized by the IAH MAR Commission
Session chairs: Enrique Fernandez Escalante, Catalin Stefan and Yan Zheng

Managed aquifer recharge or MAR in all its forms (i.e. infiltration ponds, injection with wells, river bank infiltration, etc.) covers the purposeful recharge of water to aquifers and its recovery when needed. The technique is applied for purposes as optimizing the use of groundwater reserves, increasing groundwater storage, preserving water demand in times of stress such as drought, improving the water quality or for environmental benefit. For this session we solicit contributions on different aspects of managed aquifer recharge such as the applicability of MAR to manage groundwater reserves, design considerations and tests, water quality issues, field studies, the interaction with existing groundwater systems, long-term effects and clogging issues, and economics of MAR.

9. Mineral and thermal waters
Mineral and thermal waters have a specific chemical composition, origin, and (high) temperature. Each occurrence has its own characteristics, but often it is the result of very interesting and unique hydrogeological conditions. To explore, investigate, understand, and protect each groundwater system producing mineral and thermal waters, hydrogeologists are using a wide range of methods. Geochemical and isotopic studies are particularly useful because mineral and thermal waters are often the result of deep hydrogeological processes, taking place during periods ranging from a few years to thousands of years, allowing extensive water rock-interactions.

(1) Investigation methods.
(2) Approaches for ensuring sustainable use, protection
and integrated environmental management.
(3) Specific case-studies

10. Regional groundwater systems and transboundary aquifers – co-organized by the IAH Regional Groundwater Flow Commission
Session chairs: Adam Toth and Hanneke Verweij

Understanding groundwater on a large scale is essential for different purposes (e.g. groundwater management, geothermal use, groundwater contamination). Therefore, this topic focuses on new and inspiring practices related to groundwater at a larger (basin to supra-basin) level. Calculation of regional groundwater flow, advances in GIS-methods are some of the sub-topics considered along with raising awareness and better understanding. Naturally, groundwater flow doesn’t stop at national or state borders. Transboundary aquifers are mapped all around the world. Cross-border political, socioeconomic and environmental differences create an extra dimension to take into account when trying to preserve the groundwater source in a sustainable way. Within this topic, experiences, new insights and future projects in the management and monitoring of transboundary aquifers are amongst these considered as an inspiration for all those dealing with transboundary groundwater.

11. Coastal aquifers
Coastal aquifers are a major source for freshwater supply in many countries around the world. Coastal zones are often densely populated, resulting in a high demand for fresh water. However, groundwater in these areas is highly vulnerable to salinization. Interactions between flow and transport of fresh and saline groundwater, accompanied by chemical reactions, result in great complexity of the hydrogeological system. This session invites contributions related to methodological advances in the study of coastal aquifers, as well as case-studies.

12. Urban groundwater and resilience – resource management approaches and impacts – co-organized by the IAH Urban Groundwater Network
Session chairs: Hellen Fallas, Adrian Healy and Stephen Foster

The session takes a broad ranging view to examine the potential role of groundwater to supporting sustainable urban water security, how urban groundwater resources may be maintained for future generations and what we mean by water resilient cities. This session encourages the submission of all contributions on urban groundwater monitoring, use, and management as well as urban impacts on groundwater quantity and quality. This also covers contributions to community practices and approaches for managing water resources in a range of urban geographies. The session also covers the effect of underground constructions and infrastructure on groundwater quantity and quality, and potential role of urban groundwater for other uses (e.g. low temperature geothermic systems that can impact groundwater temperature and quality).

13. Groundwater and ecosystems
Groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) are experiencing increasing pressure due to anthropogenic actions influencing groundwater quantity and quality. The list of potential stresses is long and includes e.g. climate and land use change, drinking water exploitation, and diffuse or point source groundwater pollution. To protect and preserve valuable aquatic as well as terrestrial GDEs, these stresses have to be mapped and quantified and if possible eliminated or at least mitigated. This session welcomes contributions on the characterization and modelling of GDEs, their response to stresses on groundwater quantity and quality and the design and evaluation of mitigating actions.

14. Advances in forward and inverse groundwater modeling and open source tools for computational subsurface hydrology (uncertainty)
Our understanding of complex groundwater systems including the unsaturated zone and our ability to predict their evolution is fundamental to a variety of disciplines relevant for society, ranging from groundwater resources and environmental issues to sustainable energy use. Groundwater modeling naturally occupies a central position in this framework. On the one hand, accurate forward models are necessary to solve the partial derivative equations describing flow and transport processes in porous and fractured media. On the other hand, fitting complex datasets into a model and assessing the uncertainty of model predictions require the development of advanced analysis frameworks and inversion approaches. In this session, we welcome contributions related to advances in forward and inverse modeling related to hydrogeological problems. A specific attention will be given to emerging techniques for uncertainty quantification and the development of open source tools in hydrogeology. Sustainable Management of water resources within the context of climate change and increasing anthropogenic pressure requires tools to accurately model their current behavior and predict their evolution. Existing methodologies have a poor record of predicting capabilities: we have to massively invest in the improvement of our predictive abilities!

15. Advances in experimental and field methods in hydrogeology and for understanding of the critical zone (experimental design)
The critical zone, the system that extends from the top of the canopy to the groundwater, is strongly heterogeneous and this heterogeneity controls most complex interactions involving rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms. Truly informative data is the key to understand these mechanisms. This topic is therefore devoted to the experimental validation of any innovative technique (or combination of techniques) and/or methodology that helps to better characterize, image, and/or monitor one or more of the multiple dynamic processes occurring inside the critical zone, from laboratory to watershed scales. The experimental design of informative field measurements associated to forecasting problems will receive a special interest.

16. Groundwater governance, policy and management (drought)
Growth of the world population, urbanization, agriculture on an industrial level, climate change and drought, these are just a few key factors contributing to the everincreasing pressure on groundwater systems worldwide. Therefore, an commensurate increase of proper groundwater governance, policy and management is required to safeguard this valuable natural resource for generations to come. In this topic, focus lies on good practices and lessons learned on different hydrogeological and policy levels and scales. Development and implementation of new legislation, instruments for increasing compliance promotion, regional groundwater management and groundwater Theme status monitoring are also inspirational items this topic will further consider.

17. Sustainable groundwater exploitation and well management
Groundwater resources which are exploited for the production of drinking water or for agricultural or industrial purposes experience severe stress because of natural or human causes. Using groundwater in a sustainable way and preserving the necessary reserves for future generations poses an important challenge for the hydrogeological community. However, defining a sustainable exploitation rate or evaluating it with field data is in most cases not easy. For this session we solicit contributions on the determination of sustainable yield criteria of phreatic and confined aquifers, experiences with the exploitation of groundwater, the development of tools evaluating the sustainability of exploitation, and the influence of short-term unforeseen events such as drought. For this session we also solicit contributions on the assets to exploit groundwater in a sustainable way. This includes for instance well field operation and management to optimize extraction and reduce clogging.