Risk Assessment of Groundwater Drawdown in Subsidence Sensitive Areas
Doctoral thesis, 2018

Groundwater leakage into sub-surface constructions can result in drawdown, subsidence in compressible materials, and costly damage to buildings and installations. When planning for sub-surface constructions where there is a risk for land subsidence due to groundwater drawdown, the need for safety measures must be carefully evaluated and managed. Since the sub-surface consists of heterogeneous and anisotropic materials, which cannot be fully investigated in all aspects, decisions regarding safety measures must be taken under uncertainty. In this thesis, a generic framework is presented on how to assess the risk of groundwater drawdown-induced subsidence (Paper I). As specific tools for modelling uncertainties in the groundwater drawdown – subsidence – damage chain, a method for probabilistic modelling of bedrock levels and soil stratification (Paper II) and a method for probabilistic modelling of ground subsidence to a large spatial extent (Paper III) are presented. These are combined with a probabilistic groundwater model and cost functions to calculate the economic risks of subsidence damage between different design alternatives (Paper IV). Finally, a novel method for economic valuation of hydrogeological information is presented in Paper V. The methods presented can distinguish between low and high-risk areas, identify the alternative with the highest net benefit compared to a reference alternative, and estimate the expected benefit of additional information. The methods have been demonstrated to provide useful support for decision-making and communication tools when assessing the risk of large-scale groundwater drawdown-induced subsidence in different infrastructure projects in Sweden.

inverse modelling

cost-benefit analysis


groundwater drawdown

urban hydrogeology

economic valuation

groundwater leakage


value of information analysis.

spatial variability

uncertainty quantification

risk assessment

SB-H3-salen, Sven Hultins gata 6, Göteborg.
Opponent: Prof. Jens Christian Refsgaard, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Denmark.


Jonas Sundell

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, GeoEngineering

A framework for Risk Assessment of Groundwater Drawdown Induced Subsidence

5th International Symposium on Geotechnical Safety and Risk (ISGSR),; (2015)p. 256-262

Paper in proceedings

Comprehensive risk assessment of groundwater drawdown induced subsidence

Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment,; Vol. 33(2019)p. 427-449

Journal article

Economic valuation of hydrogeological information when managing groundwater drawdown

Hydrogeology Journal,; Vol. 27(2019)p. 1111-1130

Journal article

Risk management of groundwater drawdowns in subsidence sensitive areas: Cost-benefit analysis of safety measures in infrastructure projects

Formas, 2012-01-01 -- 2017-12-31.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Transport Systems and Logistics

Construction Management

Other Civil Engineering



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4472


Chalmers University of Technology

SB-H3-salen, Sven Hultins gata 6, Göteborg.

Opponent: Prof. Jens Christian Refsgaard, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Denmark.

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