AGU Fall Meeting 2020: Consider submitting an abstract to our session!

H065 - From Recharge to Discharge: Towards a Comprehensive Description of the Underground Journey of Water and Biogeochemical Elements

Primary Convener:​ Etienne Bresciani, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)
Conveners: Clément Roques, University of Rennes 1; Sarah Leray, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; Jan H Fleckenstein, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

A wide distribution of flow paths occurs in the subsurface as a result of multi-scale heterogeneous topography and geology, fluctuating climate, and anthropogenic forcing. This distribution controls the amount and quality of groundwater and influences the functioning of receiving surface water bodies and dependent ecosystems. However, the current understanding of water and element fate and transport from recharge to discharge is severely limited due to commonly-used oversimplifications of the controlling parameters and processes. As a result, the ability to develop effective water resources management and ecosystem preservation strategies is seriously impaired.


This session invites novel contributions aiming at unraveling the complex interplay between topography, geology, climate, and anthropogenic forcing in controlling groundwater flow paths, residence times, and biogeochemical fluxes in the critical zone. Contributions may focus on a broad range of scales and present various approaches including field-based investigations, analysis of large datasets, analytical and numerical modelling, and theoretical frameworks.

Changes in Helium concentrations in groundwater reveal how rock deforms

April 26, 2020

We can gain critical insights into the evolution of flow path connectivity during rock deformation by monitoring Helium concentration dissolved in groundwater. This is the main conclusion of our last paper which has just been published with SpringerNature in Scientific Reports:

We deployed at the Grimsel Deep Underground laboratory, Switzerland, an on-site mass spectrometer ( that is able to measure a panel of dissolved gases in groundwater in near-real-time. The objective was to track anomalies in noble gases that could be involved during a reservoir stimulation experiment for Enhanced Geothermal Systems.


We see great perspectives in deploying this technology for applications related to groundwater abstraction, remediation, CO2 storage, geothermal energy but also to better understand the link between seismicity and fluid migration in the Earth's crust. More is coming soon!

Roques, C., Weber, U. W., Brixel, B., Krietsch, H., Dutler, N., Brennwald, M. S., Villiger, L., Doetsch, J., Jalali, M., Gischig, V., Amann, F., Valley, B., Klepikova, M., & Kipfer, R. (2020). In situ observation of helium and argon release during fluid-pressure-triggered rock deformation. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 6949.

Exploring displacement dynamics of a deep-seated landslide in the Alps (Cerentino, Switzerland)

March 29, 2020

The deep-seated landslide of Cerentino kept us busy for the last 4 years. Exceptional geomorphological feature in the beautiful landscape of Ticino, lots of cool data to analyze and a team composed of geomorphologists, structural geologists and hydrologists working together to elucidate its dynamics. In this paper, we have combined information from surface geomorphology, borehole core logging, displacement time series analysis and cosmogenic nuclide dating in order to understand the structure of the instability and discuss its dynamics and evolution over long and short timescales.

Many thanks to Andrea for the amazing work she did for which part of the results are compiled in this paper. More coming soon! And we are indebted to the Canton of Ticino for the fruitful collaboration in this project.  

You can download the paper here (free download offered by the journal until May 15, 2020):

New observations on viscous instabilities involving shear-thinning fluids

March 17, 2020

We have a new paper out in Experiments in Fluids: "Mixing and finger morphologies in miscible non-Newtonian solution displacement" with Nicole Mehr as leading author.

You can check it out by following this link:

Congrats Nicole!

YouTube Channel with all lectures from the 4th Cargèse Summer School 2018

July 2019

We are happy to announce that videos of lectures, practical courses, pop-up and poster presentations that were given during the 4th Cargèse Summer School 2018 “Flow and Transport in Porous and Fractured Media” are now available online on our Youtube Channel!

Enjoy the videos and stay tuned for the next edition that will happen in 2021!

Which method for streamflow recession analysis?

October 2017

New article in Advances in Water Resources: "Improved streamflow recession parameter estimation with attention to calculation of - dQ/dt"

​During the last 2 years, we have been working on streamflow recession analysis, mainly in the Oregon Cascades. We found a lot of different methods in the literature which are used to infer recession parameters based on the time rate of change in streamflow Q as a function of Q. The choice of one method above others was complicated as we could not find any overall comparison and presentation of their respective uncertainty. This paper compiles the results of our comparison exercise along with the description of the methodology we developed which appears to provide the most robust estimates.

Do not hesitate to ask me for the matlab code if you want analyse your streamflow data with our method.​

Tracking active fractures in the valley-slopes of the Aletsch glacier

September 2017

The phase III of the Aletsch project has just started with lots of exciting field campaigns during this summer! The main goal of this project is to investigate rock damage processes caused by pore pressure and temperature variations, and to understand instability mechanisms at the scale of the valley-slope in actual deglaciating environment. 

With Marc Hugentobler (PhD student) and Valentin Gischig, we were doing some logging and hydraulic tests in recently drilled boreholes. What a unique place for field work!! More information regarding the advancements of this project will be coming soon!

Some references:

- Grämiger, Lorenz (2017), Beyond debuttressing: Thermo-hydro-mechanical rock slope damage during glacial cycles. Doctoral thesis.​

- Grämiger, L.M., Moore, J.R., Gischig, V.S., Ivy-Ochs, S., Loew, S., 2017. Beyond debuttressing: Mechanics of paraglacial rock slope damage during repeat glacial cycles. J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf. 122, 1004–1036. doi:10.1002/2016JF003967

1 / 1

Please reload

AGU Fall Meeting 2020: From Recharge to Discharge: Towards a Comprehensive Description of the Underground Journey of Water and Biogeochemical Elements

© 2017 by Clément Roques