Meet the scientist #3 – Nina Rman

Nina Rman joined the Geological Survey of Slovenia (GeoZS) in 2006 as a PhD student. Her research focussed on regional flow of thermal waters in NE Slovenia, and she spent one semester at the Geothermal institute of University of Auckland in New Zealand. After finishing her PhD in 2013, she broadened her interest from hydrogeology and management of thermal waters to mineral waters and mofettes, studying their geochemistry and origins. In 2018, she became the Head of the Groundwaters – Hydrogeology department at the Survey.

As Nina likes to travel, she is involved in many EU projects and scientific groups in special waters. She has been part of many transboundary projects over the years such as T-JAM qnd TRANSENERGY, and is currently part of different EU-funded projects such as DARLINGe and GeoERA. For the latter, whereas in GeoConnect³d she is helping to deepen the knowledge on geothermal reservoirs in NE Slovenia, in HotLime she is investigating carbonate reservoirs in SE Slovenia, and in HOVER she is summarising geochemical characteristics of thermal and natural mineral waters in Slovenia.

Check out Nina’s scientific results website.

The road to become a hydrogeologist

Nina during field work at a mofette Slepice in May 2019: “full of fun and new findings!”. (photo: A. Ionescu)

Nina says her research interest is a coincidence. Having done a MSc thesis on hydrogeology of a mountainous lake on a high karstic plateau, she always thought that she would professionally continue in that direction. But the confirmation really came when she decided to apply for a PhD position at GeoZS, at a time when the exploration of the state of geothermal aquifers in Slovenia was a hot topic with lots of research opportunities available. She got offered a position and embarked in the journey that led her to become a hydrogeology expert. Nina: “I had no idea about that region before starting to work on that area, to be honest. But that was exactly the challenge in accepting the position. I had asked myself: why not explore other parts of Slovenia also?”.

After that, Nina went on to explore other parts of Eastern Europe. Nina: “I have spent a few family holidays in the Pomurje region to know the settlements and thermal spas better, then continued researching other parts of the Pannonian basin including Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and now Croatia, both for work and holidays. And I may say that it is still very, very interesting to work there.”

Spreading the word of geoscience

Besides pure science, Nina is passionate about communicating geology to students and the general public. She started to learn about how scientific and other professional aspects of geology should be presented to non-geologists while being an assistant in undergraduate Hydrogeology classes. She is currently involved in the organisation of geology workshops for kids and public, science fairs as part of the geology outreach and promotion programme of GeoZS. Nina: “We have built several sand-box groundwater flow models and geological columns at the Survey to visualise underground processes, such as groundwater flow, pollution and pumping, to everybody. And all these materials are now also used by water supply companies to educate various target groups.”. At present, a visualisation model for karst is being developed as well.

Nina considers her greatest success so far was the editing of two books that bring together knowledge of renowned Slovenian geologists and that may be the first contact of pupils and general public with geology. These are:

The Geological atlas of Slovenia, a Slovenian-English scholarly textbook, and

The 70 Geological Wonders of Slovenia, designed as a tourist guide, being available separately in Slovenian and English

What can geomanifestations tell?

Within GeoConnect³d, Nina and GeoZS are putting a lot of effort to connect all current knowledge on geomanifestations in NE Slovenia, which include oil and gas, thermal and mineral waters. The team is re-interpreting archive seismic cross-sections to delineate seismo-tectonic units and recognise formations which store various special waters, oil and gas, and some coal.

From these, Nina’s research focus are natural emissions of gases, especially CO2. The occurrence of several mineral waters, wet and dry mofettes in NE Slovenia due to natural degassing of CO2 and mantle gases (helium, for example) and their connection to the structural evolution of the Pannonian basin and current position of active (open) fault zones is still very unclear. Nina: “We plan to elaborate a model, as much as possible in 3D, which will, for the first time, jointly interpret all the geological knowledge of the region to explain why different geomanifestations occur at their current locations and what we can say about their longevity and utilisation from this.”.

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