Environmental Earth Sciences

, 75:1253 | Cite as

Developing a structural and conceptual model of a tectonically limited karst aquifer: a hydrogeological study of the Hastenrather Graben near Aachen, Germany

  • David Burs
  • Johanna Bruckmann
  • Thomas R. Rüde
Thematic Issue
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Water in Germany


Interdisciplinary and comprehensive field work combining hydraulic and geophysical experiments yielded an improved understanding of the fractured and partly karstified Kohlenkalk aquifer in the Hastenrather Graben near Aachen, Germany. The aquifer is used for drinking water production and located in a geologically and tectonically complex area shaped by various tectonic events. A workflow which combines implicit 3D structural modeling with hydrogeological conceptual model building enabled determining hydrogeological boundary conditions at specific boundary cross sections, calculating the aquifer volume, and analyzing the hydraulic influence of faults on the aquifer system. Electrical resistivity tomography, seismic refraction tomography, well logging, and a coring campaign combined with available maps and additional literature research served as basis for the setup of the 3D structural model. This 3D model comprises all important structural elements, including the fault system, deep folded structures, and thrusts in the graben center. Integration of geological structure and hydraulic studies yielded a conceptual model of the hydrogeology, describing the Kohlenkalk aquifer and neighboring layers. Hydraulic conductivity of the aquifer system varies between 6.0 × 10−7 and 6.4 × 10−4 m s−1 with a decreasing trend from the NE graben shoulder to the graben center. Analysis of piezometric heads and resulting groundwater contour maps indicated four hydrogeological units which are partly limited by faults. Data on groundwater recharge as well as anthropogenic influences on the groundwater resources are part of the conceptual model.


Hydrogeological model 3D structural modeling Karst aquifer Groundwater resources in Germany 



We kindly acknowledge data provided by energie und wasser vor Ort GmbH (enwor GmbH, Roetgen), ahu AG Wasser Boden Geomatik (ahu AG, Aachen), the Geological Survey of North Rhine-Westphalia (GD NRW, Krefeld), the district government (Cologne), and the Erftverband (Bergheim). The authors express their thanks to Dipl. Geol. Paul M. Kirch (enwor GmbH) and Dr. Martin Salamon (GD NRW) for supporting our work with advice and valuable discussions and to Professor Dr. Christoph Clauser for his constructive review of an earlier version of our manuscript. Further, we thank Rhea von Bülow, Dominique Knapp, Andreas Vogel, Julian Taschowsky, and Richard Hoffmann for contributing to this work in the framework of their diploma, master, and bachelor theses. We also thank all students and colleagues who helped during the different field work campaigns and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which improved the manuscript considerably. This study is part of the project “Water flow and permeability distribution in a tectonically limited hard-rock aquifer” funded by the Helmholtz Association and performed within the Centre for High-Performance Scientific Computing in Terrestrial Systems (HPSC TerrSys) of the Geoverbund ABC/J, Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Burs
    • 1
  • Johanna Bruckmann
    • 2
  • Thomas R. Rüde
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of HydrogeologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Applied Geophysics and Geothermal Energy, E.ON Energy Research CenterRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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