Just returned from the IAH conference in Malaga, Spain. The conference has been a great success with lots of great talks, fruitful discussions and an excellent field trip to the local karst systems close to Malaga.

Lysander Bresinsky presented the latest developments of a large scale parallelized flow model for the Western Aquifer Basin, Israel as part of the MedWater project. Recharge dynamics through thick vadose zones in porous-fractured systems are still highly challenging to simulate. The dualistic flow domain character of karst systems requires special approaches to deal with the rapid recharge component. Even classical single continuum models require lots of fine tuning to reach proper numerical convergence once the variably-saturated domain reaches several hundreds of meters of thickness. The coupling to surface flow dynamics and recharge partitioning adds another level of complexity and will be part of the ongoing model development.

My presentation focused our current research to get a better understanding of variably-saturated flow in fractures and fracture networks in the context of groundwater recharge. Variably-saturated fractures exhibit remarkable flow features that control fracture-specific discharge dynamics as well as partitioning at fracture intersection and hence the large-scale movement of water through percolating fracture networks and clusters. Recent advances in the development of our fully parallelized SPH code currently carried out by Elena Shigorina now allow us to simulate discrete Navier-Stokes driven flow dynamics coupled to classical volume-effective Richards type flow within the discrete fracture domain. Additional laboratory and field studies of Florian Rüdiger are part of our ongoing DFG project to understand the occurrence of rapid flow percolation in porous-fractured systems and provide a solid basis for the development of analytical approaches towards enhanced transfer functions.

Special thanks go to Judith Flügge and Matthys Dippenaar for fruitful discussions and evening activities!