Dr Dirk Mallants

Dr Dirk Mallants.

Dr Dirk Mallants: integrating experimental observations and numerical modelling

Dr Dirk Mallants is leading hydrogeochemistry and isotope hydrology research.

  • 8 February 2012 | Updated 4 October 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Dirk Mallants leads the Groundwater Assessment and Prediction Stream of CSIRO's Water for a Healthy Country Flagship. He also leads the Groundwater Hydrology Research Program for CSIRO Land and Water. 


Dr Mallants has a background in soil and groundwater hydrology with more than 20 years of experience in characterising and modelling water flow and contaminant transport in complex environments – typically variably-saturated soils, aquifers and low-permeable porous media including clay aquitards and man-made materials such as concretes. 

He specialises in whole-of-system understanding by integrating experimental observations and coupled numerical models.

His work includes parameterisation of pore-scale and field-scale spatial variability in flow and transport properties, modelling processes of water flow and contaminant transport across a range of spatial scales, and the evaluation by means of process-based models of management options for water-related environmental pollution problems.

Dr Mallants has 20 years of research experience in water flow and chemical transport measurement and modelling in soil-groundwater systems.

In the mid-1990s he contributed to improvement in analysis of Time Domain Reflectometry data for solute transport applications.

Dr Mallants has also been involved in front-end and back-end (environmental) impact assessment studies for the nuclear fuel cycle in Europe and elsewhere. 

Under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he has lectured dozens of training courses on subsurface characterisation, site evaluation and remediation, and safety assessments for wastes associated with the nuclear fuel cycle including tailings from mining and milling.

Recent advancements were made in the field of:

  • coupled reactive transport modelling for variably-saturated media using the HPx biogeochemical transport simulators
  • climate change impacts on the hydrological cycle for temperate oceanic climates
  • natural analogues for studying long-term evolution of recent and anthropic soils
  • geophysical/geotechnical techniques (cone penetration testing) to determine subsurface spatial variability in stratigraphy (layering) and hydrogeological parameters
  • efficient calibration of high-dimensional groundwater models.

He was previously Project Leader for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal and Environmental Studies and Head of the Performance Assessments Unit at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, SCK•CEN.

Academic qualifications

Dr Mallants graduated as geo-environmental engineer (soil physics) at the Faculty of Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium. 

In 1996 he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in soil physics also from the KUL.

Part of his PhD research on water flow and contaminant transport in a heterogeneous soil profile was accomplished at the United States Salinity Laboratory in Riverside California. 


Dr Mallants has authored over 300 titles with more than 70 cited papers in Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge and numerous client reports. 

He has been the recipient of a long term Fellowship from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science and a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Fund for Scientific Research (FWO). He is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.

Professional activities

Dr Mallants's professional activities include:

  • Associate Editor Vadose Zone Journal (Soil Science Society of America)
  • Senior Associate Editor for Agronomy Journal (American Society of Agronomy)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of ISRN Soil Science Journal
  • Associate Editor Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics
  • Past Associate Editor of Journal of Environmental Quality.

Dr Mallants's professional memberships include:

  • Hydrological Society of South Australia
  • Soil Science Society of America
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • American Geophysical Union
  • International Association of Hydrogeologists
  • British Hydrological Society
  • Australian Society of Soil Science
  • International Society for Porous Media.

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