Meet the (guest) scientist #13 – Koen Beerten

GeoConnect³d is promoting a series of four short online sessions on the week of the 22 June to discuss four specific topics around our Roer-to-Rhine area of interest (crossing Belgium-France-Germany-Luxembourg-Netherlands). We are pleased to introduce our guest external speakers, GeoConnect³d speakers and organising team behind these events in our ‘Meet the Scientist’ series.

Koen Beerten is our guest speaker in our second webinar: Framing groundwater management on 23 June 2020 from 9:30 to 11am (CEST). He started his professional career with geological mapping projects at the KULeuven, around 20 years ago (Quaternary geological maps of NE Belgium), and then moved into geochronology with his PhD (Electron spin resonance dating of sedimentary quartz). In 2005, he started a post-doc at the University of Cologne, still working in the field of Quaternary geochonology. It brought him to fantastic places such as southern Australia, where he executed field work for a couple of weeks.

Since 2009, he is a team member of the Waste&Disposal group at SCK CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) where he works as researcher and project leader in projects related to the safe disposal of radioactive waste (geological and surface disposal). These projects cover a wide range of topics, from hydrogeological characterisation and groundwater age dating to surface water-groundwater interactions and long-term landscape evolution under geodynamic and climate change. In his unit (Engineered and Geosystems Analysis), he mainly cooperates with (hydro)geologists and groundwater modellers.

You can find him on ResearchGate.

Everchanging landscapes

Koen has always been interested in the diversity of landscapes across the world, and the curiosity to understand better how they form and how they can evolve was what brought him to his field of research. Koen: “I can now investigate how the Earth’s surface has been evolving and we might even start developing scenarios on how the future will look like.”.

He recognises there is no surface without a subsurface, and is also interested in the interactions between them. Koen: “My work is exactly about understanding the link between both, whether we are talking about water or sediments or soils. In the past, now and in the future.”.

The link between groundwater and geo-energy

SCK CEN is involved in GeoERA as linked third party of VMM. In the VoGERA project, Koen and the SCK CEN team are studying pilot sites in order to test a tool that enables to assess the vulnerability of shallow groundwater to deep energy-related subsurface activities. Since GeoConnect³d is a project in the geo-energy theme of GeoERA that is investigating different uses of the deep subsurface, a link between the two projects comes naturally. And the concept of geomanifestations is being used in VoGERA. Koen: “The pilot site we are working on is a geomanifestation of past tectonic activity, and we now try to understand the role of (dormant) faults in modifying subsurface flow and transport.”.