Workshop on Groundwater in Carbonate Rocks (20 June 2015)


  • John Gunn, University of Birmingham and Limestone Research & Consultancy Ltd
  • Steve Worthington, Worthington Groundwater


The aim of this one-day workshop is to provide consultants and professionals with an introduction to groundwater systems in carbonate rocks and to the tools that can be used to investigate such systems. 

There is a lack of consensus among hydrogeologists about whether all British carbonates exhibit karstic drainage so the workshop will start by discussing the nature of karst in general and carbonate karst in particular before more detailed discussion of investigative techniques.

The majority of the examples and case studies will be from England and Wales. There will also be a Guest Lecture from Geary Schindel, Chief Scientist of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, Texas, which regulates delivery of potable water to around 1.7 million people from a karst groundwater system developed in Cretaceous limestones.

The course will be delivered as a series of short lectures each of which will be followed by a period for discussion. Participants will receive a USB-stick with copies of the presentations.


Professor John Gunn is Honorary Professor in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and Director of Limestone Research & Consultancy Ltd. 

Over his professional career he has authored many academic articles and consultancy reports on a range of karst-related topics in Britain and other countries.

Dr Steve Worthington graduated from the University of Sheffield, and has an MSc and a PhD from McMaster University in Canada. He has worked as a consultant for the last twenty years, mostly in Canada and the USA.  

He specializes in characterizing carbonate aquifers by using both well methods and traditional karst methods such as tracer testing and spring monitoring, and has published a number of papers on the subject.

Steve and John are both active members of the IAH Karst Commission. John is a Chartered Geologist and Fellow of the Geological Society of London. Steve is a Professional Geoscientist in Ontario and Texas.

Course Outline

1. Introduction

  • Recent advances in carbonate hydrogeology
  • Conceptual hydrogeological models
  • British carbonate groundwaters

2. Carbonate dissolution and development of enhanced permeability

3. Hydrogeology of carbonate rocks I: Tests at the site scale

4. Hydrogeology of carbonate rocks II: Aquifer-scale tests using wells and springs

5. Hydrogeology of carbonate rocks III: Tracer testing

6. Incorporating karst into groundwater models

7. Case studies (including SPZ and HIA/HRA)

  • The English Chalk
  • English Jurassic limestones
  • Carboniferous limestones of England and Wales

8. Invited lecture by Geary Schindel, Chief Scientist, Edwards Aquifer Authority

9. Concluding discussion


The fee for the day (09:00 to 18:00) will be £220 which includes refreshments and lunch together with course materials.


Booking will be via the online shop - details to follow.

Tuesday 23 June: Fluorescence Workshop (£20)

The workshop will enable delegates to explore several of the techniques available to analyse fluorescent organic matter in karst groundwaters, including fluorescence spectroscopy, UV-VIS spectroscopy, and UV microscopy. 

The focus will be on hands on demonstration of analytical techniques, and delegates are encouraged to bring water samples for analysis.

The cost of this workshop is £20, which covers printed materials, equipment usage and technical assistance. There is a limit of 12 participants.

Tuesday 23 June: Workshop on modelling carbonate waters (£20)

The workshop will demonstrate the use of simple software tools to work on water data in order to understand the significance of their chemistry. 

Starting by calculating carbonate system parameters such as saturation for calcite and PCO2 we will move on to the simulation of reactions such as mixing, degassing, calcite precipitation, and backtracking water chemistry to determine its previous composition.

Approaches to determining mass balance of systems, including modelling Rayleigh distillation for elemental composition and isotopes will also be covered. 

Participants are encouraged to bring their own data for study and can contact the organizers in advance to check on its suitability. This workshop was originally given at the 2011 Karst Record (KR6) meeting at Birmingham and sight of course materials can be found at

The cost of this workshop is £20, which covers printed materials and equipment usage. There is a limit of 25 participants.