Dr Alan Herbert MA, MMath, PhD, FGS

Dr Alan Herbert

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Radioactive Waste Disposal and Remediation

Contact details

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

Dr Alan Herbert is a leading mathematical modeler and hydrogeologist specializing in the understanding of coupled processes and heterogeneous groundwater systems. Of particular interest are deep fractured rocks and the applications to nuclear waste disposal, geothermal energy and fracking for exploitation of shale gas resources.


BA, MA, MMath, PhD


Dr Alan Herbert worked for Theoretical Physics Division at Harwell Laboratory where he completed his PhD thesis on Flow and Transport in Fractured Rock, leading the development of modeling tools for the OECD/NEA Stripa Project. He subsequently joined Birmingham University as a lecturer in hydrogeology, before moving into commercial research as a Director of ESI Limited. He has recently rejoined Birmingham University as a Senior Lecturer in Radioactive Waste Disposal and Remediation, whilst maintaining his links with industry as a Director of ESI.

Postgraduate supervision

Currently supervising the following students:

  • Ban To - The correlation between sandstone lithofacies and permeability and their importance for contaminant transport in groundwater, with Professor John Tellam
  • Simiao Sun - Transient Water Table Influence upon Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (LNAPLs) Redistribution: Laboratory and Modelling Studies, with Dr Mike Rivett 
  • Gary Clarke - Understanding the Influence of Transient Saline-Freshwater Interfaces on Potential Radiological Contaminant Coastal Discharges, with Dr Mike Rivett

Available topics for PhD studentships are:

  • Development of coupled processes numerical models of tracer and colloidal transport in the Grimsel Test Site URL supervised by me and Mr Riley and supported by ESI Ltd 
  • DNAPL contaminant invasion and release from heterogeneous low-permeability aquitards: developing sustainable groundwater remediation frameworks supervised by me and Dr Rivett and funded by Geosyntec Ltd

If you are interested in one of these projects please contact Dr Alan Herbert directly (a.w.herbert@bham.ac.uk).


Research interests

  • Mathematical and numerical modeling of flow and transport in fractured rocks for radioactive waste disposal
  • Fate and transport of NAPLs
  • Geothermal energy and ground source heating and cooling
  • Modelling of Colloid Migration for the Grimsel Underground Test Site with NAGRA

Other activities

Posts held

  • Council Member for the Ground Source Heat Pump Association
  • Director ESI Limited
  • Dr Alan Herbert enjoys outreach activities and runs a science club within scouting – they have won numerous national school STEM prizes and he is the Young Engineers Outstanding Leader 2013


Some recent publications:

Herbert, A., Arthur, S. and Chillingworth, G., 2013. Thermal modelling of large scale exploitation of ground source energy in urban aquifers as a resource management tool. Applied Energy, 109, 94-103.

Ben V. Furlong, Michael S. Riley, Alan W. Herbert, John A. Ingram, Rae Mackay, John H. Tellam, 2011. Using regional groundwater flow models for prediction of regional wellwater quality distributions. Journal of Hydrology 398 (2011) 1–16

Arthur ,S., H. R. Streetly, S. Valley, M. J. Streetly & A. W. Herbert, 2010. Modelling large ground source cooling systems in the Chalk aquifer of central London Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 43;p.289-306.

Hitchmough, A. M., Riley, M.S., Herbert, A.W. and Tellam,J.H., 2007. Estimating the hydraulic properties of the fracture network in a sandstone aquifer. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 93 38–57

S. R. Buss, A. W. Herbert, P. Morgan, S. F. Thornton and J. W. N. Smith, 2007. A review of ammonium attenuation in soil and groundwater. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 37: 347-359.