Heat as a tracer

This research was first established during the ARC/NWC funded National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) from 2009-2014, and is now a CWI Flagship Project.

Subprogram 1C: Heat as a groundwater tracer

Heat carried by groundwater serves as a tracer to identify groundwater-surface water interaction, flow through fractures, and flow patterns in groundwater basins (Anderson, 2005). Renewed interest in using heat as a groundwater tracer has emerged, largely a result of improved temperature sensors and relatively inexpensive data loggers, as well as improved numerical codes for simulating coupled groundwater flow and heat transport.

One of the most powerful uses of temperature data is in constraining groundwater model calibration. Anderson (2005) noted that additional studies of joint inversion of head and temperature data in a variety of hydrogeological settings are urgently needed to determine the general applicability and limitations of the method. Field measurements of heat will be conducted in both aquifer settings (e.g. regional-scale basin analysis, fractured rock settings) and at vital groundwater-environmental interfaces (e.g. in streams and coastal environments).

The output from this research will enhance our theoretical understanding of heat transport processes and provide constraint to the modelling undertaken in other research studies such as in Subprogram 2C.

Research Contributors from UNSW:

  • Chief Investigators - Professor Ian Acworth and Dr Martin Andersen
  • Post Doctoral Research Fellow