Effect of faults and barriers on groundwater flow and solute transport

Understanding the nature and role of hydraulic barriers in groundwater systems


This project will address the role of faults and dykes on groundwater flow and solute transport. Faults and dykes can act as barriers to groundwater flow, yet faults can also be conduits for flow through otherwise impermeable layers. Understanding their role is critical to assessing the impacts of mining, unconventional gas and water resource developments.

This project expects to develop new methods to quantify groundwater flow through and along faults and dykes by combining geological, hydraulic and geochemical approaches with detailed 3D numerical models. The expected outcome will be an improved understanding of the role of faults and barriers in subsurface hydrology, and an improved ability to model complex groundwater systems.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Interpret hydraulic response data and results of geophysical investigations to identify potential fault structures in the Perth metropolitan area.
  • Hypothetical and real-world groundwater flow and reactive transport modelling to identify fault characteristics that are consistent with observed data. Data worth techniques will also be used to reduce uncertainty in these characteristics through new sampling campaigns.
  • Conduct fieldwork in the Perth metropolitan area to obtain environmental tracer and other water chemistry data relevant to along fault flow.


Suggested readings

Research team leader: Dr Adam Siade 

I am a Hydrogeologist with broad research interests including, groundwater hydrology, contaminant transport, uncertainty assessment, data worth and design, and environmental decision support. I’m particularly interested in developing techniques to improve our understanding of natural systems such that the risks of adverse anthropogenic impacts on these systems are minimised.

Collaborations and Funding

External collaborators:



  • Analysis for this project is funded through an ARC Linkage grant (LP180101153) with financial support from Rio Tinto Iron Ore and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation of Western Australia.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • A desire and capacity to develop quantitative hydrogeology skills ranging from data acquisition and associated interpretation to 3D numerical modelling of both local-scale and regional-scale groundwater systems.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.