Christopher Barry

Christopher Barry

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Title of PhD: Securing Resilient Public Water Supply from Groundwater Resources at Transient Risk from Uncertain DNAPL Chlorinated Solvent Contamination

Supervisors: Dr Mike Rivett, Dr Alan Herbert, Professor David Lerner (University of Sheffield), Matilda Beatty (Severn Trent Water Ltd.), Tim Besien (Environment Agency)

Christopher’s PhD is a NERC PhD, CASE studentship, supported by Severn Trent Water Ltd. And the Environment Agency.

Christopher’s research is concerned with time-variant groundwater flow and risks posed by contaminants in urban aquifer systems to wells drawing groundwater. In particular, he is investigating the behavior of contaminants leached from dense, insoluble substances (known as DNAPLs) which were extensively used by industry in the mid-twentieth century and which are now known to persist in the subsurface for decades. The goal is to develop a computer-coded methodology which numerically predicts a zone from which a well draws water and therefore contaminant migration from known source locations. To be used reliably, the model must account for time-variant processes, such as changes in groundwater flow patterns and changes in DNAPL distribution and dissolution in the subsurface with time. Wells with observed time-variance in contaminant concentrations will be studied to calibrate and evaluate the model.


BA, MSci Geology (University of Cambridge)


Christopher studied natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising into geology. He developed particular interests in geophysics and mineral sciences, completing a thesis on modeling of diffusion processes at the core-mantle boundary.

Christopher started to consider hydrogeology as an application of his degree after meeting a hydrogeologist working for an NGO in Burkina Faso (see article). Convinced of the importance of safe groundwater for global sustainability and development, Christopher is pleased to be undertaking PhD research that could assist the sustainable supply of groundwater.


Research interests

  • DNAPL behaviour in groundwater

  • Groundwater modeling

  • Urban groundwater resource development and protection