Name: Dr. Gaathier Mahed
Short bio: Gaathier has a background in hydrogeology with a focus on fractured rock. He has received extensive technical training in aspects of geophysics and isotopes in Germany and Morocco, the latter sponsored through the International Atomic Energy Agency. He has worked in gold, uranium and coal mining, as well as on shale gas research. More recently, he has trained on petrel, seismics and sequence stratigraphy applied to unconventional reservoirs.
He has served on technical panels in South Africa to help water research projects focus on sustainable development. At the Water Research Commission of South Africa, for example, he was involved in a pilot project related to geothermal energy. Gaathier also occupies voluntary executive and non-executive board positions at various companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). One of the former voluntary positions he occupied was with Awqaf South Africa, where he gained valuable knowledge and insights into the NGO sector as well as charitable endowments. Dr Mahed was also recently elected to the International Association of Hydrogeologists Early Career Network as a steering committee member. He also serves on the Young Earth Scientist’s Network as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Vice President for Career Advancement.
Gaathier was voted one of the Brightest Young Minds in South Africa for the year 2010, Mail and Guardian top 200 Young South Africans to take to lunch for 2011, and a World Islamic Economic Forum Global Young Fellow for 2013. He was also awarded an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, amongst multiple other prestigious funding opportunities, for exchange at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the North West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa and has a research interest in porous media in general.
Project information: We are working on the hydrodynamic model of the Rietvlei in Cape Town, South Africa. It is very interesting as we have a team of engineers, scientist, a hydrologist, a hydrogeologist as well as a geochemist on board. Furthermore, we have four MSc students and one PhD student working on the project for the long term. We envision that the project will last three years, but the possibility to extend for another three years in order to do more detailed work is possible.
What’s the purpose of your project?
We want to better understand the hydrological as well as hydrogeological regime within the coastal wetlands along the western margin of South Africa in the immediate vicinity of Cape Town. This is in order to help the city better manage their resources and determine the hydrological impact on ecology.
How are you setting up and testing your project?
We have drilled wells in the catchment and have sampled them, as well as rainfall and surface water. Furthermore, we are monitoring the water levels of surface water and groundwater.
Any results yet?
No results as yet.
What has been the most challenging?
Sinking wells in unconsolidated sediments and sampling in remote locations with limited equipment would have to be the most difficult aspects of the project.
How will this project help society?
To better understand the impact we as humans have on urban hydrology and hydrogeology. This will help us to better manage the limited water resources and also its impact on the environment.