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Land Subsi­dence & Ground­wa­ter Salin­iza­tion in the Mekong Delta

Felix Dörr – Hector Fellow Franz Nestmann

Land subsi­dence and ground­wa­ter salin­iza­tion are existence-threat­en­ing environ­men­tal changes in the Mekong Delta (MD). Their origin and process dynam­ics are not fully under­stood yet. By innov­a­tive measure­ment technol­ogy, field/lab inves­ti­ga­tions and numeric model­ing, a compre­hen­sive under­stand­ing of the processes is devel­oped and the effect of poten­tial counter­mea­sures can be examined. The elabo­rated knowl­edge is the basis for sustain­able water concepts in the MD and other delta areas worldwide.

The Mekong Delta (MD), home for approx. 17 million people, is being confronted with increas­ingly existence-threat­en­ing environ­men­tal changes since several years, in partic­u­lar land subsi­dence and ground­wa­ter salin­iza­tion. One of the main reasons for this is consid­ered to be the high extrac­tion of ground­wa­ter. In this PhD project, innov­a­tive measure­ment technolo­gies are used to collect and evalu­ate new data on depth-differ­en­ti­ated land subsi­dence rates, the aquifer stratig­ra­phy as well as the quality, age and dynam­ics of the ground­wa­ter, by which a compre­hen­sive process under­stand­ing of land subsi­dence and ground­wa­ter salin­iza­tion in the MD will be devel­oped. On the basis of this data, a 3D land subsi­dence and ground­wa­ter model will be elabo­rated, with which the dynam­ics of land subsi­dence and ground­wa­ter salin­iza­tion due to ground­wa­ter extrac­tion and climate change will be inves­ti­gated. The model will be used to calcu­late future scenar­ios in order to evalu­ate the further impact of climate change and the effect of poten­tial counter­mea­sures, e.g. artifi­cial ground­wa­ter recharge (aquifer storage and recharge). The elabo­rated process under­stand­ing and the model calcu­la­tions thus form the basis for sustain­able water resource manage­ment concepts in the MD. The elabo­rated process under­stand­ing can also be adapted to other delta regions world­wide and can thus contribute to the clari­fi­ca­tion of compa­ra­ble issues in other delta areas.

Landsenkung und Grundwasserversalzung im Mekong Delta

Descrip­tion: In the south­ern Mekong Delta, the effect of land subsi­dence signif­i­cantly exceeds the effect of sea level rise. In which hydro­ge­o­log­i­cal layers the relevant land subsi­dence processes take place and which role the extrac­tion of ground­wa­ter plays is not yet clari­fied. The cause of the ground­wa­ter salin­iza­tion is also unclear — besides the saltwa­ter intru­sion from the sea, deep, saline paleo-ground­wa­ter can also be the cause.

Felix Dörr

Karlsruhe Insti­tute of Technology

Super­vised by

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. h.c. mult.

Franz Nestmann


Hector Fellow since 2009Disziplinen Franz Nestmann