Intrinsic vulnerability assessment in karst areas: A numerical modeling approach


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March 2008


[1] The main objective of this study was to quantify the intrinsic vulnerability of karst springs by numerical modeling. A global approach is used, modeling the discharge of a karst spring. This approach includes the hydrological dynamics of karst systems and is applicable to complex karst settings, where structural and hydraulic characteristics cannot be spatially resolved with sufficient accuracy. A basis model and four extended versions were set up to determine the individual characteristics of the present karst system and to include different flow processes that could affect the vulnerability of the system. All these model setups consider, besides recharge (soil and epikarst system), the conduit and the diffuse flow system as the main characteristics of the karst aquifer. The extended setups additionally account for surface runoff, an intermediate flow system, exchange flow between the conduit and the diffuse system and seasonal variation in the water storage capacity of the recharge system. Potential use of the calibrated models to quantify the intrinsic vulnerability of karst springs is discussed on the basis of (1) the temporally changing contributions of the conduit and diffuse flow systems to spring discharge, and (2) modeled breakthrough curves resulting from a standardized contaminant input into the karst system. The modeling approach complements vulnerability mapping methods by addressing temporal and quantitative aspects of vulnerability.


Karst, Vulnerability Numerical, Modeling

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Water Resources Research, Vol. 44, no. 3 (2008-03-08).