Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Research areas

Research Areas in India


Charminar in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, also known as the “City of Pearls” and nowadays capital of the State of Andhra Pradesh in South India, was founded in 1591, when Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah abandoned his old headquarters at Golconda because of water scarcity and built a new city along the banks of the Musi River.

It is situated on the Deccan Plateau whose rocky and hilly region here rises to an average of 544 meters. The climate is characterised by a hot and dry summer from February to June with temperatures regularly rising above 40°C. The average annual rainfall is 790 mm of which the majority is received during monsoon season from June to September.

Market Place in Hyderabad

Today Hyderabad is India’s sixth largest city and a fast-growing metropolis with an estimated population of 7 million, compared to 4.3 million in 1991. It is expected that the Hyderabad Urban Agglomeration, which comprises the Core City Area and the quickly urbanizing surrounding municipalities, will reach a population of 13.6 million by 2021. The growth was pushed by economic reforms that promoted foreign and national investments in order to transform Hyderabad from traditional manufacturing towards a knowledge-based economy. Today more than 500 IT companies have their presence in Hyderabad. Between 2004 and 2008 the economy grew at an average rate of 8.73%. This has led to an inflow of migration adding to the high natural population growth in the city.

As all megacities in India, Hyderabad faces severe environmental challenges like air pollution, generation of ever increasing amounts of solid waste as well as the overexploitation and pollution of water resources.


Sunset at Pontonbridge in Varanasi

Varanasi, also known as Benares, is said to be around 3,000 years old which makes it one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is located on the banks of the Ganges River where according to Hindu mythology it was founded by Lord Shiva. Thus the city is one of the holiest places in Hinduism. Being a religious centre for Buddhists and Jains too, Varanasi has always attracted a large number of pilgrims and worshippers. Today it is situated in the Northern Indian State of Uttar Pradesh and has a population of about 1.3 million (Census 2001).

Due to its location in the middle Ganges valley of North India Varanasi is characterised by a continental and humid subtropical climate. In the hot summers ( April to June), temperatures often rise above 40°C whereas in the winter months it is not uncommon for the temperatures to fall below 5°C at night. The average annual rainfall is 1110 mm, most of which is recorded during the monsoon season from June to October.

Assiriver in Varanasi

The old city of Varanasi is a densely populated labyrinth of narrow streets and crowded lanes, that stretches along the ‘ghats’ (stairs) leading down to the river, where people bath themselves, cremations take place and worshippers come for praying and religious rituals. The rich culture of the old city has made it a popular spot for tourists from all over the world. Large sections of the permanent population of Varanasi, especially of middle and higher income, nowadays live in new parts of the city which sprawl far away from the riverside.

Industrial effluents, the disposal of untreated sewage, the cremation of hundreds of bodies every day, agriculture and overexploitation pose serious threats to the Ganges River and thereby to millions of people living along its river bank.


Bhubaneswar Down Town

Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state of Orissa (officially Odisha since 2010) is located on the inner fringe of the eastern coastal region of India, approximately 350 km south-west from Kolkata. It has a history of settlement that goes back over 2000 years. Due to its importance as a religious centre it has witnessed the construction of numerous temples with the medieval Lingaraj Mandir being one of the most stylistically evolved examples of Orissan architecture. Being home to more than 500 temples, Bhubaneswar is also known as the Temple City and along with Puri and Konark ranges among the most visited tourist destinations in East India.

Bhubaneswar’s tropical climate is characterised by mild winters and very hot summers with temperatures reaching up to 45 °C in April and May. Most of the average annual rainfall of 1542 mm is recorded during the monsoon-season that lasts from June up to October.

Temple in Bhubaneswar

After being declared capital of the state of Orissa in 1948 the Oriyas hired the German planner Otto Koenigsberger to build the modern city of Bhubaneswar. He elaborated a master plan with wide roads and parks and included the important religious monuments of the old town. Koenigsberger who designed the city for a population of 40.000 disregarded the fast economic development of Bhubaneswar which today is home to around 650.000 people (Census 2001). This has led to an unplanned growth of the city where today approximately 30% of the population live in slum areas with no or only minimal basic infrastructure.

Research Area in China

Guangzhou and the Pearl River Delta

In the frame of the processes economic growth, increasing migration as well as reorganization of the institutional and administrative system the mega-urban area Pearl River Delta increases in economic power and number of inhabitants substantially within a couple of years; cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Dongguan grew in shortest time from small cities to megacities with more than five million people and to mega-urban agglomerations with modern high-tech industries that are highly interlinked with the world market (Wu et al. 2007; Wehrhahn et al. 2008). Having not only one single historic city center, the Pearl River Delta is not a megacity-complex with a mono-central urban structure, but a clustered region of several growing (mega)cities moving closer due to formal city planning and informal, and thus incalculable, population growth.

Guangzhou and the Pearl River (Photo by R. Strohschön)

Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, is located at the confluence of the Bei Jiang (North River), Xi Jiang (West River) and Dong Jiang (East River) which converge to form the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River). As the central megacity in the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou concentrates all political, economic, educational, scientific, technological, cultural and social functions. According to the Guangzhou city council the city already covers a total area of 7.434km² and had a registered population of 7.6 million plus approximately 3.9 million migrants at the end of 2005. The basic development strategy of Guangzhou area is exploration in the south, optimization in the north, extension in the east, adjustment in the middle and co-ordination in the west (Jin 2007). These dynamic growth processes do not only transform urban economies and population structures but also the urban morphology and Guangzhou’s cityscape with more and more people living either in becoming urban villages with a high building density or in high rise buildings instead of traditional Chinese town houses (Wu and He 2005) as well as the urban land use pattern and its surrounding areas. The city’s GDP has virtually doubled since 1995, reached about 411.58 billion Yuan in 2004, only second to Shanghai and Beijing and reaches annual growth rates in the 13% range (Jin 2007; Hugentobler et al. 2002).



The city of Rourkela is located in the Sundargarh district of Orissa state. The town came into prominence in the year 1954-55, with the decision of the Government of India to set up the first Public Sector Steel Plant in this locality in collaboration with the then West Germany, and is today considered the industrial capital of Orissa. The city is connected with all parts of the country by railway and road. The population of the urban agglomeration today is estimated to be around 700.000, with 35.000 people working at the steel plant. The name “Rourkela” could either be derived from German “Ruhr” (referring to the industrial centre of Germany) and the ending “-kela” (meaning “village”), or it could mean “your home” in the indigenous Sadri language.

National Institute of Technology (NIT) Rourkela

National Institute of Technology, Rourkela (NIT) formerly known as Regional Engineering College, (REC) is one of the premier national level institutions for technical education in the country. and is funded by the Government of India. In sync with his famous “ I have a dream……” speech, erstwhile Indian Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had laid the foundation stone of NIT Rourkela in 1961. And 50 years down the line, NIT Rourkela has constantly been keeping its tryst with destiny. NIT Rourkela has grown to be amongst the most respected institutions across the country, being recognized as an institution of national importance with the IITs and IIMs by the NIT Act. Government of India has elevated the Regional Engineering College, Rourkela to a deemed university under the name of National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.

The main objective of the institute is to produce quality Engineers and Scientists in Graduate and Post-Graduate levels in various branches of Engineering and Science. The institute is managed by the Board of Governors of National Institute of Technology (Rourkela) Society and vested with significant degree of administrative and financial autonomy. Government of India has recognized the institute as a premier institution of repute and has developed it as a center of excellence under plan funding. The institute has been modernized by two foreign collaborative funding agencies i.e. the Material theme in the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering department under Indo-U.K. REC project and the Computer Science and Electronics streams under World Bank cum Swiss Development Corporation IMPACT project.

At present there are more than 100 ongoing research and consultancy project in the department. A large number of M. Tech., M.Sc. and Ph. D. students are carrying out their studies in various departments. About 3800 B. Tech. students are studying in different branches of Engineering at NIT Rourkela. Total strength of Faculty and staff are about 600. The Library facility, laboratories of different departments, sports facilities, student activity centre with various clubs and other resources are excellent.  Spread across mammoth 675 acres capture by a lush green cover, the campus of NIT Rourkela is situated right at the conjugation of the hills of Rourkela. The campus is characterized by aesthetically pleasing buildings which have inspired generations of students to strive for excellence.  The campus of the institute consisting of the institute buildings, halls of residence and staff colony is situated at the eastern end of Rourkela steel city, beyond Sector-1. It is a residential campus offering accommodation to faculty, staff and students. The campus has all the amenities for developing personal, social and academic skills of the student community.


Hugentobler, M., Jia, B., Moavenzadeh, F. And Hanaki, K. (2002): AGS Future Cities: Guangzhou – A Partnership for Sustainable Urban Development. In: DISP 151 (4/2002), 51-58.

Jin, H. (2007): Aspects of Guangdong Province. Guangzhou.

Wehrhahn, R., Bercht, A.L., Krause, C.L., Azzam, R., Kluge, F., Strohschön, R., Wiethoff, K., Baier, K. (2008): Urban restructuring and social and water-related vulnerability in mega-cities – the example of the urban village of Xincún, Guangzhou (China). In: Die Erde. Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 139 (3), 227-249.

Wu, F. and He, S.J. (2005): Changes in traditional urban areas and impacts of urban redevelopment: a case study of three neighbourhoods in Nanjing, China. – TESG 96, 1: 75-95.

Wu, F., J. Xu and A. G.O. Yeh (2007): Urban Development in Post-Reform China. State, Market, and Space London.