UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis

International Conference on Groundwater in Karst

With optional pre-and post-conference field trips

20-26 June 2015, Birmingham, UK


The word "karst" is a germanization of the place name for a region in the northwest Dinaric area that is commonly  referred to as "the Classic Karst". The word has passed into the scientific vocabulary to describe a special environment in which the major groundwater flux is through an integrated network of disolutionally enlarged  channels that discharge via discrete springs. The channels span a very wide aperture range; the smallest are little more than micro-fractures or pathways through the rock matrix but at the other end of the spectrum (and commonly in the same rock mass) channels may grow to dimensions where they can be explored by humans and are called caves. The relationships between matrix, channels and conduits in a carbonate rock mass are a product of recharge and rock lithology, stratigraphy and structure and exploration of these relationships is a key theme of the conference. Water transfer through the smaller channels that are commonly intersected by boreholes is very slow  and has often been analysed using equivalent porous media models although the limitations of such models are  increasingly recognised. At the other end of the spectrum (and commonly in the same rock mass) the channels may  grow to dimensions where they can be explored by humans (caves) through which water flow is analagous to ‘a  surface stream with a roof’ and may be amenable to analysis by models devised for urban pipe networks. The  development of holistic and realistic models for water movement and storage in karst is a second key theme of the  conference. The direct, and often rapid connections between surface water and groundwater in karst have given  rise to distinctive groundwater ecosystems that have only recently been subject to detailed study and this forms a  third theme for the conference. Finally, of course, it is well known that karst groundwater systems are of global  importance to humans both as direct sources of potable water and as the source of many rivers. Hence, a fourth  theme will consider human-karst groundwater interactions, a wide area that includes water resource assessment,  groundwater protection, mineral extraction and infrastructure development.

In summary, the CONFERENCE THEMES will be:

1. Lithological, structural & stratigraphical influences on karst groundwaters.

2. Modelling karst groundwater systems.

3. The ecology of karst groundwaters.

4. Human-karst groundwater interactions

The symposium will be the annual meeting of the IAH Karst Commission and of the UIS Commission of Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis and is also sponsored by the British Cave Research Association, the British Geological Survey, the Hydrogeology Group of the Geological Society of London and the IAH GB Chapter.

The symposium will take place shortly after the 80th birthday of Professor Derek Ford and will provide an opportunity to celebrate with him and to recognise the huge contribution that he has made to the study of karst.


The Conference will take place at the University of Birmingham from 20-26 June 2015 as follows:

Saturday 20th June : Optional special workshop for consultants and professionals on "Karst groundwater systems"

Sunday 21st June : Optional field trip - Groundwater in Cretaceous carbonates.

Monday 22nd June : Opening of formal meeting. Paper sessions. Evening meeting of karst commissions.

Tuesday 23rd June : Morning paper sessions

Afternoon. Optional field trip to local underground limestone quarry visited by canal barge, or workshops or free time to visit local area

Evening. Conference dinner

Wednesday 24th June : Paper sessions. Close of formal meeting

Thursday 25th June : Optional field trip - Groundwater in Jurassic carbonates.

Friday 26th June : Optional field trip - Groundwater in Carboniferous carbonates