The difference between the dissolved‐solids concentration in base flow and in storm flow has often been used as the basis for separating components of flow. However, an analysis that explicitly relates the amount of time that runoff water has been in contact with watershed soils to the resulting dissolved‐solids concentration shows that simple mass balance chemistry methods for hydrograph separation are misleading. Field studies of surface and subsurface storm flow, when coupled with laboratory determination of the relationship between contact time and dissolved solids content of a soil water mixture, suggest that the residence time of infiltrated water is as short as a few hours in the cases studied. In those cases, hydrograph separation methods based on the simple mass balance equation for the dissolved solids will yield considerable overestimates of the base flow component.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 1979
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