UMR 1114 EMMAH - Mediterranean Environment and Agrohydrosystems Modelling


General objective of the EMMAH research unit: to analyse and predict the physical functioning of ecosystems. In particular: feedback between different soil uses, water cycle, agricultural production, under the effect of climatic constraints.
Research topics: physical / biophysical / geochemical state of the soil, transfers with the subsoil, plants, water reserves, at all scales.
Composition: the UMR EMMAH brings together staff from INRAE, physicists and hydrogeologists from the University.
INRAE researchers are particularly involved in the interactions between human activity and all physical parameters of the soil surface. They are developing an important remote sensing activity, are involved in national and international instrumental platforms, in precision agriculture, problems related to the use of wastewater, transfers involving plants, agronomic and environmental aspects. They are developing a modelling platform integrating soil and plant functioning.
The physicists of the University are specialised in the "porous medium" aspect of the soil, its heterogeneity, its disorder. Their points of view are mechanics, electromagnetism and statistical physics. They are developing advances in imaging and high-performance computing, signal processing, to characterise the structures and heterogeneity of porous media at scales ranging from the laboratory to the watershed. They propose models for transfers and wave propagation in heterogeneous media.
The University's hydrogeologists are specialised in the natural chemical and isotopic tracing of continental waters, geophysics, mathematical modelling of flows, simulation of contaminant transfer. They rely on study sites in areas with high agricultural pressure, Mediterranean karst aquifers, coastal areas, regional deep aquifers (heritage reserve) and generally low permeability environments.

On the Internet



André Chanzy

Deputy Director
Konstantinos Chalikakis (Hydrogeology)
Gaëlle Mesgouez (Physics)
Céline Pelosi (INRAE)

Courses offered

The UMR EMMAH is responsible for the Earth and Water Sciences course of the SVT degree, the Physics degree, the Hydrogeology, Soil and Environment (HSE) master's degree and the Master's degree in Engineering (CMI) Water Resources and Environment of Avignon University. The UMR is also involved in the EI-CNAM84 engineering school in Avignon

Research activities

  • Interactions between water balance, agricultural practices and production, land use change and climate change in cultivated and natural ecosystems;
  • Characterisation of aquifer functioning using isotope hydrochemistry, hydrogeophysics, remote sensing and modelling;
  • Modelling of reactive mass transfers (water, solutes, colloids), energy and wave propagation in the continuum groundwater - subsoil - soil - plant - atmosphere (critical zone);
  • Characterisation and modelling of soil-plant-microflora interactions in relation to the hydromineral supply of plants and the evolution of soil water properties;
  • Characterisation and modelling of the impact of agricultural practices and climate change on mesofauna, macrofauna and soil functioning;
  • Development of measurement systems and algorithms for environmental characterisation (phenotyping from proxies and remote sensing; plant and soil functioning; soil use; hydro-mechanical soil properties...);
  • Environmental assessment of wastewater reuse in agriculture.


Academic partnerships

  • AMU, U. Rouen, U. de Savoie, U. Oxford, EEE U., Stellenbosch, Irstea.
  • Institutional partnerships: CEA, IAEA, CNRS, BRGM, ANDRA, ARS, IFSTTAR IFPEN, Chambers of Agriculture, Arvalis-Institut du Végétal, Institut de l'élevage, Météo-France, ESA, SANSA Space Science

Industrial partnerships

  • Suez-Environnement, Danone, Total, MEED, Orange Labs, MECA3D, Effidence, YBdesign, LUMIX, MEAS-IT, AIRINOV.
  • Competitiveness clusters: risk management and vulnerability of territories and water.

Further information

Skills and know-how

  • Remote sensing, geophysics, field surveys, imaging.
  • Hydrodynamics, porous media, isotopic hydrogeochemistry, biogeochemistry, in situ characterisation, bioclimate, aquifer, karst, electro-magnetic methods.
  • Physical and mathematical modelling, transfers, numerical simulation, statistical physics, data assimilation.


  • Characterise the condition of the soil, its surface and subsoil, as well as the transfer of water, solutes and biotic/abiotic particles involving the soil.
  • To model the evolution of the soil, aquifers and the landscape at different scales and to link these scales together.

Specific equipment

  • 4 workshop sites: Crau-Camargue, Lysimeter Platform, Flow-Sensing Site, Vaucluse Fountain Experimental Watershed-LSBB.
  • Avizo Fire image processing software (Domaine Saint Paul).
  • Isotope analysis laboratory (city centre).


Jean-Henri Fabre Campus,
Agrosciences Division
301 Baruch de Spinoza Street
84000 Avignon

Domaine Saint-Paul - Agroparc site
228, route de l'Aérodrome - CS 40509
84914 Avignon cedex 9

+33 (0)4 90 14 44 80 (AgroSciences)
+33 (0)4 32 72 22 10 (Domaine St Paul)



Experimental structure characterisation / Imaging (MRI, tomography) / Monitoring of processes by imaging / Remote sensing / Water and pollutant transfer / Chemical and isotopic tracing / Modelling / Global changes / Agricultural production /
Soil-plant transfer / Biogeochemical cycles / Abnormal diffusion / Disordered media / Waves in heterogeneous media / Lévy statistics / Parallel computing / Numerical methods for transfer