Tracing of karst waters

This course is part of the programme
Karstology (Third Cycle)

Objectives and competences

Tracing with natural and artificial tracers is a very useful research method for the study of directions and characteristics of groundwater flow in karst. Student understands its significance for karst hydrology. He becomes familiar with the possibilities of the use of natural and artificial tracers in simple and combined tracer tests in different aquifer types. He knows how to inject the tracer, how to sample and analyse the water samples. He is able to use different qualitative and quantitative methods of interpretation of the results. He learns about different case-studies with the application of tracer tests in Slovenia and abroad.


Student can accede to an examination after reaching 50% presence at the seminar and exercises, and preparing a short written work (5 to 10 pages) treating specific topic of karst hydrology or some publication in connection with her/his seminar or doctoral work.


• Development of the method of tracing in karst
• Applicability of the method in various aquifer types
• Types and characteristics of natural and artificial tracers
• Required previous researches and preparation of the tracing plan
• Tracer test
• Registration of data and presentation of obtained results
• Interpretation of obtained data
• Case-studies of tracer tests applied in hydrological practice

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
• student understands theoretical basis of research methods and techniques
• student knows how to choose a suitable method for a planned study and following some additional instructions from the literature he is able to use it in practice
• student is capable of autonomous evaluation, interpretation and presentation of obtained results


• Bakalowicz, M., 1994: Water Geochemistry: Water Quality and Dynamics.- In: Gilbert, J., D.L. Danielopol & J.A. Stanford (Ed.): Groundwater Ecology, 97-129, Academic Press, San Diego etc.
• Behrens et al., 2001: Toxicological and ecotoxicological assessment of water tracers. Hydrogeology Journal 9: 321–325.
• Goldscheider, N. & D. Drew , 2007: Methods in Karst Hydrogeology.- International Contributions to Hydrogeology, Taylor & Francis, 276 pp, London.
• Goldscheider, N., Meiman, J., Pronk, M., Smart, C., 2008. Tracer tests in karst hydrogeology and speleology. International Journal of Speleology, 37 (1), 27-40. Bologna.
• Gospodarič, R. & P. Habič, 1976: Underground water tracing. Investigations in Slovenia 1972-1975.- Institute for Karst Research SAZU, 312 pp, Ljubljana.
• Käss, W., 1998: Tracing Technique in Geohydrology.- A.A. Balkema, 581 pp, Rotterdam.
• Kranjc, A. (Ed.), 1997: Karst Hydrogeological Investigations in South-Western Slovenia.- Acta carsologica, 26/1, 388 pp, Ljubljana.
• Taylor, C.J., Greene, E.A., 2008: Hydrogeologic Characterization and Methods Used in the Investigation of Karst Hydrology.


Oral exam 80%. A short written work is assessed 20%.

Lecturer's references

Adjunct Professor of Karstology


PETRIČ, Metka, RAVBAR, Nataša, GOSTINČAR, Petra, KRSNIK, Petra, GACIN, Marina, 2020. GIS database of groundwater flow characteristics in carbonate aquifers: tracer test inventory from Slovenian karst. Applied geography, vol. 118, 8 p, doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102191.

PETRIČ, Metka, RAVBAR, Nataša, ZINI, Luca, CALLIGARIS, Chiara, CORAZZI, Riccardo, ŽITKO, Zdenka, RESTAINO, Marco, KNEZ, Martin, 2020. Determining the directions and characteristics of underground water flow in karst for the purpose of traffic routes construction: the case of the new Divača-Koper railway line (SW Slovenia). Acta carsologica, 49/1, p. 63-80, doi: 10.3986/ac.v49i1.8582.
PETRIČ, Metka, 2019. The use of artificial tracer tests in the process of management of karst water resources in Slovenia. In: YOUNOS, Tamim (ed.), et al. Karst water environment: advances in research, management and policy, (The handbook of environmental chemistry, vol. 68). Cham: Springer. cop. 2019, p. 133-156, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-77368-1_5

TURPAUD, Philippe, ZINI, Luca, RAVBAR, Nataša, CUCCHI, Franco, PETRIČ, Metka, URBANC, Janko, 2018. Development of a protocol for the karst water source protection zoning: application to the Classical Karst Region (NE Italy and SW Slovenia). Water resources management, 2018, vol. 32, 6/2, 16 p., doi: 10.1007/s11269-017-1882-4

PETRIČ, Metka, KOGOVŠEK, Janja, 2016. Identifying the characteristics of groundwater flow in the Classical Karst area (Slovenia/Italy) by means of tracer tests. Environmental earth sciences, 75/22, p. 1-13, doi: 10.1007/s12665-016-6255-4.