LIAG / Research / Topics / Critical Zone: Soil, Vadose Zone and Aquifers 

Critical Zone: Soil, Vadose Zone and Aquifers

The critical zone comprises the near subsurface from the soil over the vadose zone to the aquifers and is therefore of utmost importance for water availability, contamination and solute transport. We investigate this zone with modern geophysical methods for better understanding of processes.

The critical zone describes the dynamic range of the interaction of atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and upper lithosphere and extends from the treetops to the base of the aquifers. The current changes in climate and environmental conditions remind us of the complexities that require a broad and comprehensive approach to natural systems. With “critical zone”, a broad target area is deliberately chosen, knowing that the LIAG only deals with individual aspects. Thus, the non-invasive geophysical methods of the institute provide important contributions to the spatial structure, to hydraulic parameters and, through models and simulations based on them, also to understanding the processes taking place here. An important piece of the puzzle is the vadose zone between the aquifer and the earth's surface which is highly variable in time and space. The transport processes that take place here are of great importance for the input of nutrients and pollutants into the groundwater and the exchange with the atmosphere.

Current Projects

  • MoreSpin
    Mobile Magnetic Resonance Sensor with supraconducting coil for prepolarization in the near surface soil
    plot-specific optimized nutrition management in precision agriculture
  • guided GPR waves
    High-resolution imaging of the critical zone with guided GPR waves
  • Schillerslage
    The hydrogeophysical test-field Schillerslage - a critical zone observatory

Finished projects

    Simple and rapid imaging of groundwater using magnetic resonance 
    Structurally constrained Inversion of MAgnetic-resonance data using Georadar reflections
    COupled Magnetic resonance and Electrical resistivity Tomography
  • 2DQT
    Two-dimensional inversion of Surface-NMR data using the full (QT) data cube


Jan Igel
Thomas Günther
Tobias Splith