Technical Programme >Workshops >Geophysics for the Characterization of the Critical Zone



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 Workshop on Geophysics for the Characterization of the Critical Zone

Sunday 6 September 2015, 09:00 - 17:30 hrs.

Maximum number of delegates: 40

Workshop convenors

Ulrike Werban Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ) - Leipzig, Germany
Giorgio Cassiani Department of Geoscience - University of Padua, Italy


Time Title  Presenter
09:00 - 09:15 Introduction G. Cassiani, U. Werban &
P. Dietrich
09:10 - 10:00 Hydrologist's Demands for Geophysical Information for the Characterization of the CZ U. Wollschläger
10:00 - 10:50 Application of Geophysical Measurements for Soil Mapping from the Field to the Landscape Scale U. Werban & P. Dietrich
10:50 - 11:20 Coffee Break  
11:20 - 12:10 Soil-plant-atmosphere Interaction Issues and Non-Invasive Monitoring G. Cassiani
12:10 - 13:30 Lunch Break  
13:30 - 14:15 Geophysical Prospection of Surface-Groundwater Interactions A. Binley
14:15 - 15:00 Geophysical Estimation of the Sspatial Distribution in Changes in Soil Surface Area L. Slater
15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break  
15:30 - 16:00 Geophysical Charaterization of the Near Surface for CZ Science, Examples from CZO's in the United States S. Holbrook
16:00 - 16:20 Time-Lapse EMI At The Hillslope Scale For The Investigation Of Soil Moisture E. Martini
16:00 - 16:20



Description of the workshop

The Earth’s Critical Zone (CZ) is the thin veneer of the planet from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of the aquifers. The CZ is house to a number of key chemical, physical and biological processes that control much of the interactions of the planet with the atmosphere, and supports nearly all human activity. The characterization of the CZ requires abundant and informative data, and near surface geophysics can play a major role in this direction.

A special interest is devoted to the soil-plant-atmosphere (SPA) interactions, with specific attention to the spatial and temporal distribution of soil moisture as an effect of precipitation, irrigation, redistribution, infiltration and root uptake. The SPA interactions play an essential role in the exchanges of mass and energy that in turn control a number of environmental processes in the CZ, including those affecting and mitigating Climatic Changes. Also of utmost importance is the understanding of the relevant processes taking place in agricultural practice, in order to optimize irrigation and plant resilience in face of expected climatic changes and growing population demands (“more crop per drop”). In spite of these challenges, our understanding of the complex CZ and SPA interactions is often limited by the lack of spatially extensive and time intensive data, particularly regarding the subsoil components, including root activities, and their changing states. Common point-based methods do not allow the investigation of spatial distribution of state variables. Remote sensing generally penetrate the subsoil only by a few centimeters and their view of the subsurface is hindered by vegetation itself. Ground-based, non-invasive (geophysical) techniques can be applied at different scales to image static and dynamic characteristics of the subsoil, in response of hydrological stresses.

The workshop will present the state of the art for geophysical characterization of the CZ, and discussion shall be elicited to indicate the possible ways forward. Special attention will be given to the integration of geophysical (time-lapse) data with distributed eco-hydrological modelling.

In order to keep the discussion open within the workshop, the convenors welcome suggestions for specific invited contributions. Please contact us (,