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Personal profile

Research Biography

Ilka Wallis is a hydrogeologist with areas of expertise in quantitative hydrogeology and geochemistry. Ilka focuses on the development of reactive geochemical transport models which integrate fundamental processes that are normally studied in isolation (hydrogeological, mineralogical, geochemical and biochemical). Areas of specialisation include the assessment and prediction of the variability of the redox zonation in aquifers, the corresponding impact on the fate of pollutants (such as nitrate), water quality changes during managed aquifer recharge, incorporation of environmental tracer data into geochemical reaction networks (age indicators, such as Helium/Tritium), the mobilisation and remediation of metals (such as arsenic) and the quantifying of feedback mechanisms between chemical reactions and physical flow in aquifer systems.

Ilka obtained her MSc at Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany and her PhD at Flinders University, specialising on the quantification of arsenic mobilisation and attenuation by coupled flow and multi-component reactive transport modelling. In the past, Ilka Wallis worked at the Geological Surveys of South Africa, Great Britain and Germany and at Aquaterra Simulations Pty, Australia and has lectured at Rhodes University and the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Ilka was an associate editor for "Hydrogeology Journal" from 2013 to 2018.

Ilka is an Adjunct Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Manitoba, Canada since 2017

Research Interests

Applied research in hydrogeology, flow/solute/reactive transport modelling in hydrogeologically and geochemically heterogeneous aquifer systems, with special emphasis on contaminant hydrology.

Current research projects:

  • PFAS mobility and plume development at affected Defense sites. Collaborative research with CSIRO, Dep. of Defence. Development of an advanced modelling approach for a process-based quantification of PFAS transport and fate in aquifers. Includes a numerical modelling framework for the vadose zone in addition to the groundwater. Includes PFAA-specific sorption model and verification of flow velocities through groundwater age data. (2019-2021, >200 000 $)
  • CRC for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC-Time). CI. Industry-led collaborative research. Funded through Industry, ARC, Aust. Government. CRC TiME will address currently fragmented approach to mining closure research. The CRC will facilitate a series of national demonstration sites to test closure solutions that are scalable and transferable and promote transparency across sites, companies, governments, researchers and the public. (2019 - 2029; > 30Mio$)
  • Effect of faults and barriers on groundwater flow and solute transport. ARC linkage grant LP180101153. Combination of hydraulic and geochemical approaches, together with 3D numerical flow and transport modelling, to quantify the effect of faults and barriers on groundwater flow and solute transport. If successful, this project will be a major step forward in our ability to characterise and conceptualise faults and, in turn, predict groundwater movement in complex environments. Project partners: Univ. of WA; RioTinto; Wageningen Univ. Netherlands; Water Corporation; Dep. of Water and Env. (2019-2022, >500 000 $)

Recently completed research projects: 

  • Chronology of Groundwater Salinity Hotspots, Mt Lofty Ranges, South Australia. ANSTO Research Grant 10724 (2017 - 2018)
  • Retardation and mobilization of arsenic at redox fronts under advective flow conditions - a concerted multidisciplinary approach (AdvectAs). International cooperation partner in project funded through Germand and Swiss Research Foundation (DFG, SNF). In collaboration with Uni. of Tuebingen, Karlsruher Institue for Technology and EAWAG Switzerland; (2016 - 2019). 
  • Quantification of governing geochemical reactions, which control leachate water quality at the Brukunga Mine site South Australia. In collaboration with the Department of State Development, SA. (2017-2018)
  • Busan Aquifer Storage and Recovery Scheme, South Korea. Reactive transport modelling to investigate the hydrochemical response to injection (collaboration with KIST, South Korean Institute of Science and Technology, Seoul.) (2017-2019)

Current RHD students:

Tracey Main (masters): Super Oxygenated water injection trial for remedial options study in a basalt aquifer. Collaborative research with Golders.

Caglar Bozan (masters): Assessing Groundwater Recovery Scenarios for Opencast Mining using Numerical Modelling. 

Zlatko Eteroric (masters): Groundwater modelling of mine dewatering int he Pilbara Region in Western Australia. Collaborative research with RioTinto

Nashel Kalaka (masters): Pilbara-wide hydraulic test data analysis. Collaborative research with RioTinto.

Sian Kennare (masters): Water Resources of the Willochra Basin, SA . Collaborative research with DEW, Department for Environment and Water

Recently completed RHD students:

Cassady O'Neill (masters): Imprint of mineral deposits on natural hydrochemistry. Collabroative research with the Geological Survey of Victoria

Joshua Edwards (masters): Leachate water quality at the Brukunga Mine site South Australia. Collaborative research with DSD, Department of State Development.

Micha Roemer (masters): In-situ immobilisation of arsenic in the subsurface using ferric chloride. Collaborative research with the University of Manitoba, Canada.

Marianna Ramirez Lagunas (masters): Groundwater discharge to sea using near surface geophysics, EC and temperature measurements.

Andrew Joloza (masters):Hydrochemical characterisation of groundwater in the major aquifers in Malawi

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