Aquifers as climate logs - untangling replenishment mechanisms

Using groundwater chemistry to determine historic replenishment

Groundwater age is the time since groundwater recharge occurred and variations in groundwater recharge over time will be reflected in groundwater ages. This project will develop novel interpretive tools to access this information using isotopic tracers.

The impacts of climate change on groundwater resources is an important question in Hydrogeological studies. The age of groundwater within an aquifer represents a detailed log of past recharge events. The difficulty is obtaining this information.

This project will develop methods that use environmental tracers to provide detailed information about groundwater ages and relate the age structure of groundwater systems to past climatic conditions.

The project will generate methods for assessing the past history of groundwater resources, and provide insight into the viability of groundwater in the future. This will improve our understanding of how groundwater resources will behave under a changing climate.

As part of this project you will:

  • Conduct field work in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to collect age tracer data.
  • Develop an interpretive framework to assess recharge chronologies using age tracer data.
  • Investigate physical controls on recharge by developing relationship between climate, vegetation, geology, soil and groundwater

For more background information see the suggested readings below.

Research team leader: Dr Jim McCallum

I am a Hydrogeologist with board interests including, groundwater residence time, surface-water groundwater interaction, physical modelling and contaminant transport. I am particularly interested in quantifying natural systems through novel experimental and modelling approaches.

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.

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 applicationDifferent application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Funding and collaborators

  • Analysis for this project is funded through ARC as part of the project DE180101518 with additional funding for analysis and fieldwork provided by Rio Tinto
  • External collaborators - Rio Tinto Iron Ore

Similar projects you may be interested in