Research methods and techniques in karst hydrologeology

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

Objectives and competences

Student is able to use and deepen the basic knowledge about karst hydrology and specific characteristics of the structure and functioning of karst aquifers. Hydrogeological research methods are adapted to such complex structure and they are suitable for application in karst areas. They include methods which are fundamental for all hydrogeological studies (geological and geomorphological research, hydrological analysis, water balance, hydrochemistry and isotopic analysis, remote sensing, geophysics, modelling), but can be modified for the use in karst. But special emphasis is on research methods which are specific for karst aquifers. Speleological methods enable direct observation of the aquifer structure and the characteristics of groundwater flow. Especially important for the study of directions and characteristics of groundwater flow in karst is tracing with artificial and natural tracers. Student becomes familiar with the significance and development of research methods in karst. He understands the difference between the structural and functional approaches and the necessity of a simultaneous use of these two approaches and different research methods in the study of karst water systems. He knows the theoretical bases of the most important research methods and techniques. Based on the examples from practical work he is able to compare their characteristics and different ways of application.


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.


• Significance of hydrogeological researches
• Geological, geomorphological and speleological investigatons
• Hydrogeological mapping
• Meteorological measurements
• Hydrological measurements
• Hydrological balance
• Spring hydrograph and hydrological analysis
• Hydrochemical and isotopic analyses
• Tracing techniques
• Boreholes
• Remote sensing and geophysical methods
• Statistical methods and hydrological modelling

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.
• Bakalowicz, M., 2005: Karst groundwater: a challenge for new resource.- Hydrogeology Journal, 13, 148-160.
• Goldscheider, N. & D. Drew , 2007: Methods in Karst Hydrogeology.- International Contributions to Hydrogeology, Taylor & Francis, 276 pp, London.
• Milanović, P.T., 1979: Hidrogeologija karsta.- HE Trebišnjica, 302 pp, Trebinje.
• Perrin, J., 2003: A conceptual model of flow and transport in a karst aquifer based on spatial and temporal variations of natural tracers.- PhD thesis, Faculty of Sciences, University of Neuchâtel.
• Shaw, E.M., 1994: Hydrology in Practice.- Chapman & Hall, 569 pp, London.
• Taylor, C.J., Greene, E.A., 2008: Hydrogeologic Characterization and Methods Used in the Investigation of Karst Hydrology.
• Stevanović, Z., 2015: Karst Aquifers – Characterization and Engineering. Springer, Cham, 692 pp.


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

Lecturer's references

Adjunct Professor of Karstology


RAVBAR, Nataša, PETRIČ, Metka, BLATNIK, Matej, ŠVARA, Astrid, 2021. A multi-methodological approach to create improved indicators for the adequate karst water source protection. Ecological indicators: integrating monitoring, assessment and management, vol. 126, 14 p, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2021.107693

BLATNIK, Matej, CULVER, David C., GABROVŠEK, Franci, KNEZ, Martin, KOGOVŠEK, Blaž, KOGOVŠEK, Janja, LIU, Hong, MAYAUD, Cyril, MIHEVC, Andrej, MULEC, Janez, ALJANČIČ, Magdalena, OTONIČAR, Bojan, PETRIČ, Metka, PIPAN, Tanja, PRELOVŠEK, Mitja, RAVBAR, Nataša, SHAW, Trevor R., SLABE, Tadej, ŠEBELA, Stanka, ZUPAN HAJNA, Nadja, KNEZ, Martin (urednik), OTONIČAR, Bojan (urednik), PETRIČ, Metka (urednik), PIPAN, Tanja (urednik), SLABE, Tadej (urednik). Karstology in the classical karst, (Advances in karst science). Cham: Springer, cop. 2020. XII, 222 str., ilustr., zvd., graf. prikazi. ISBN 978-3-030-26826-8, doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-26827-5.

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

RUSJAN, Simon, LEBAR, Klaudija, PETRIČ, Metka, LOJEN, Sonja, BEZAK, Nejc, 2019. Identifying the hydrological behavior of a complex karst system using stable isotopes. Journal of Hydrology, 577, p. 1-11, doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2019.123956
PETRIČ, Metka, 2017. Flow dynamics in a karst aquifer studied by means of natural and artificial tracers: a case study of the Malenščica and Unica karst springs. Geologija, 60/2, p. 211-221, doi: 10.5474/geologija.2017.015