Quantifying groundwater/surface-water interactions is essential for managing water resources and revealing contaminant fate. There has been little concern on the exchange between streams and aquifers through an extensive aquitard thus far. In this study, hydrogeologic calculation and tritium modeling were jointly applied to characterize such interactions through an extensive aquitard in the interior of Jianghan Plain, an alluvial plain of Yangtze River, China. One groundwater simulation suggested that the lateral distance of influence from the river was about 1,000 m; vertical flow in the aquitard followed by lateral flow in the aquifer contributed significantly more (~90%) to the aquifer head change near the river than lateral bank storage in the aquitard followed by infiltration. The hydrogeologic calculation produced vertical fluxes of the order 0.01 m/day both near and farther from the river, suggesting that similar shorter-lived (half-monthly) vertical fluxes occur between the river and aquitard near the river, and between the surface end members and aquitard farther from the river. Tritium simulation based on the OTIS model produced an average groundwater residence time of about 15 years near the river and a resulting vertical flux of the order 0.001 m/day. Another tritium simulation based on a dispersion model produced a vertical flux of the order 0.0001 m/day away from the river, coupled with an average residence time of around 90 years. These results suggest an order of magnitude difference for the longer-lived (decadal) vertical fluxes between surface waters and the aquifer near and away from the river.
Hydrogeology Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 4, 2018
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