P3 Structural Controls of the Hydrological Functioning of a Floodplain

People Involved

Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Olaf A. Cirpka

University of Tübingen, Hydrogeology

Dr. Carsten Leven

University of Tübingen, Hydrogeology

Prof. Dr. Peter Dietrich

University of Tübingen, Environmental and Engineering Geophysics & Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Monitoring and Exploration Technologies


Stefan Klingler, MSc

University of Tübingen, Environmental and Engineering Geophysics

Jonas Allgeier, MSc (associated)

University of Tübingen, RTG Hydrosystem Modelling

Simon Martin, MSc

University of Tübingen, Hydrogeology

Research Questions and General Approach

Research Questions

Floodplains are important landscape elements connecting streams with their catchment. While strong gradients of biogeochemical parameters are often observed in organic-rich floodplain sediments, the strength of groundwater flow through reducing sediments determines how important these zones are for the receiving water body.

The floodplain of River Ammer between Pfäffingen and Tübingen is fairly typical for the hilly landscapes found in Triassic geology. Like in many other cases, the hydrology of this floodplain is poorly understood regarding three main aspects:

These hydrological factors influence the fate of nitrate and other pollutants introduced at the hillslopes and in the floodplain of the Ammer valley. They are determined by the internal structure of the floodplain sediments and their hydraulic properties.

General Approach of P3

In project P3, we combine hydrogeological and geophysical techniques to determine

We have installed an observation-well field for itensive monitoring campaigns and developed geophysical imaging techniques to elucidate the flow field and unravel subsurface heterogeneity.


Establishment of a Field Site in the Ammer Floodplain
Hydrogeological Investigation of the Ammer Floodplain
Direct-Push Color Logging to Detect Facies of High NOM in Floodplain Sediments
Geoelectrical Mapping to Detect Gravel Channels
Optimal Placement of Piezometers to Detect a Groundwater Divide
Adaptive Observation-Based Conceptual Site Modeling Framework



in press

S. Klingler, S. Martin, O.A. Cirpka, P. Dietrich, C. Leven (2020): Kombination geophysikalischer und hydrogeologischer Methoden zur gezielten Erkundung feinkörniger Talfüllungen. Grundwasser (in press).


Heidgen, S., Marinova, E., Krauß, R., Nelle, O., Ebner, M., Märkle, T., Miranda, T., Bofinger, J., Klingler, S., Junginger, A. (2020): Palaeoenvironment and potential resources for early Holocene subsistence in the Ammer River Valley (Germany) based on palaeoecological and bioarchaeological evidence. Quaternary Int., 560: 259-272, doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2020.05.038.

Klingler, S., Cirpka, O.A., Werban, U., Leven, C., DietrichP. (2020): Direct-push color logging images spatial heterogeneity of organic carbon in floodplain sediments. J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci. 125(12): e2020JG005887, doi: 10.1029/2020JG005887.

Martin, S., Klingler, S., Dietrich, P., Leven, C., Cirpka, O.A. (2020): Structural controls on the hydrogeological functioning of a floodplain. Hydrogeol. J. 28(8): 2675-2696, doi: 10.1007/s10040-020-02225-8.

Allgeier, J., Gonzáles-Nicolás, A., Nowak, W., Cirpka, O.A. (2020): A stochastic framework to optimize monitoring strategies for delineating groundwater divides. Frontiers Earth Sci. 8: 554845: doi: : 10.3389/feart.2020.554845.

Klingler, S., Leven, C., Cirpka, O.A., Dietrich, P. (2020): Anomaly effect-driven optimization of direct-current geoelectric mapping surveys in large areas. J. Appl. Geophys. 176: 1004002, doi: 10.1016/j.jappgeo.2020.104002.

Utom, A.U., Werban, U., Leven C., Muller, C., Knoller, K., Vogt, C., Dietrich, P. (2020): Groundwater nitrification and denitrification are not always strictly aerobic and anaerobic processes, respectively: an assessment of dual-nitrate isotopic and chemical evidence in a stratified alluvial aquifer. Biogeochem., 147:211-223 doi: 10.1007/s10533-020-00637-y.

Utom, A.U., Werban, U., Leven, C., Muller, C., Dietrich, P. (2019): Adaptive observation-based subsurface conceptual site modeling framework combining interdisciplinary methodologies: a case study on advancing the understanding of a groundwater nitrate plume occurrence. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res., 26:15754-15766 doi: 10.1007/s11356-019-05048-7.

BSc and MSc Theses

BSc Theses

Simon Gerner (2019): Untersuchungen zur Bestimmung des Matrixwiderstandes verschiedener Sedimente.

Laurens Hobohm (2019): Untersuchungen der Abflussdynamik der Ammer bei Tübingen-Unterjesingen.

MSc Theses

Teresa Rotava (2020): Detection and mapping of layers of high organic carbon content in floodplain sediments.

Jonathan Jene (2020): Water balance of the Ammer floodplain – A scenario study.

Kathrin Singer (2020): Optimized and conventional electrical resistivity tomography surveys: Evaluation with synthetic data and field application in the Ammer valley.   

Aaron Petrowitsch (2019): Hydrogeochemistry of the Ammer river valley floodplain.

Martin Dersch (2019): Improving the geologic model of the Ammer valley floodplain using in situ geophysical borehole methods.

Stefan Klingler (2017): Geoelectrical Forward Modeling to Identify Resolvable Sedimentary Structures.

Raissa Mpundu (2017): Investigations of the groundwater conditions in the Ammer valley close to Tübingen, Germany.

Simon Martin (2017): Hydrogeological Investigation of the Ammer River Floodplain between Pfäffingen and Tübingen, SW Germany.