Download Full Text (5.4 MB)

Publication Date

November 2016


Some portions of the porous rock matrix in the karst unsaturated zone (UZ) can contain large volumes of water and play a major role in water flow regulation. The essential results are presented of a local-scale study conducted in 2011 and 2012 above the Low Noise Underground Laboratory (LSBB – Laboratoire Souterrain à Bas Bruit) at Rustrel, southeastern France. Previous research revealed the geological structure and water-related features of the study site and illustrated the feasibility of specific hydrogeophysical measurements. In this study, the focus is on hydrodynamics at the seasonal and event timescales. Magnetic resonance sounding (MRS) measured a high water content (more than 10 %) in a large volume of rock. This large volume of water cannot be stored in fractures and conduits within the UZ. MRS was also used to measure the seasonal variation of water stored in the karst UZ. A process-based model was developed to simulate the effect of vegetation on groundwater recharge dynamics. In addition, electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) monitoring was used to assess preferential water pathways during a rain event. This study demonstrates the major influence of water flow within the porous rock matrix on the UZ hydrogeological functioning at both the local (LSBB) and regional (Fontaine de Vaucluse) scales. By taking into account the role of the porous matrix in water flow regulation, these findings may significantly improve karst groundwater hydrodynamic modelling, exploitation, and sustainable management.


Karst, France, Hydrogeophysics, Carbonate Rocks, Matrix Porosity

Document Type



Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 24, no. 7 (Nov-16).





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.