Heterogeneity influences on stream water–groundwater interactions in a gravel-dominated floodplain

R. B. Miller, D. M. Heeren, G. A. Fox, T. Halihan, D. E. Storm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Floodplains are composed of complex depositional patterns of ancient and recent stream sediments, and research is needed to address the manner in which coarse floodplain materials affect stream–groundwater exchange patterns. Efforts to understand the heterogeneity of aquifers have utilized numerous techniques typically focused on point-scale measurements; however, in highly heterogeneous settings, the ability to model heterogeneity is dependent on the data density and spatial distribution. The objective of this research was to investigate the correlation between broad-scale methodologies for detecting heterogeneity and the observed spatial variability in stream/groundwater interactions of gravel-dominated alluvial floodplains. More specifically, this study examined the correlation between electrical resistivity (ER) and alluvial groundwater patterns during a flood event at a site on Barren Fork Creek, in the Ozark ecoregion of Oklahoma, USA, where chert gravels were common both as streambed and as floodplain material. Water table elevations from groundwater monitoring wells for a flood event on 1–5 May 2009 were compared to ER maps at various elevations. Areas with high ER matched areas with lower water table slope at the same elevation. This research demonstrated that ER approaches were capable of indicating heterogeneity in surface water–groundwater interactions, and that these heterogeneities were present even in an aquifer matrix characterized as highly conductive. Portions of gravel-dominated floodplain vadose zones characterized by high hydraulic conductivity features can result in heterogeneous flow patterns when the vadose zone of alluvial floodplains activates during storm events. EDITOR D. Koutsoyiannis; ASSOCIATE EDITOR X. Chen

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-750
Number of pages10
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Volume61
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 11 2016

Keywords

  • alluvial floodplain
  • hydraulic conductivity
  • interpolations
  • streamflow
  • surface water–groundwater interaction
  • water table response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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