How does geological heterogeneity control floodplain groundwater dynamics?

O Dochartaigh, B.E.; Archer, N.A.L.; MacDonald, A.M. ORCID:; Black, A.; Gooddy, D.C.; Peskett, L.. 2016 How does geological heterogeneity control floodplain groundwater dynamics? [Poster] In: Rain, Rivers and Reservoirs, Edinburgh, UK, 27-29 Sept 2016. British Geological Survey. (Unpublished)

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Upland floodplains provide an important function in regulating river flows and controlling the coupling of hillslope runoff with rivers. A floodplain in an upland area of the River Tweed catchment, Scotland, was characterised using geophysics, 3D geological mapping, hydrogeological testing and geochemical sampling, and monitored from September 2011 to February 2013 for variations in groundwater levels, river stage, soil moisture and meteorological parameters, including a period of nine months of exceptionally high rainfall. The floodplain contains an unconsolidated, permeable alluvial and glaciofluvial aquifer 8 to 15 m thick, with transmissivity 50 to 1000 m2/d, which is coupled to the hillslope by permeable solifluction deposits. The floodplain aquifer is a significant store of, and conduit for, catchment water. It gains recharge from the river and the adjacent hillslope, transmitting groundwater downstream and acting as a buffer to restrict water flowing from the hillslope from directly entering the river. Floodplain groundwater level fluctuations are driven primarily by changes in river level and the propagation of pressure waves through the floodplain aquifer. There is significant lateral variation in floodplain groundwater response. Most of the floodplain aquifer is hydraulically connected to the river, but groundwater at the edge of the floodplain is strongly controlled by hillslope sub-surface flow. The geological structure and lithology of the hillslope-floodplain transition is an important hydrological control. It can enhance the influence of subsurface hillslope runoff to the floodplain, which has implications for runoff modelling, flood prevention interventions on hillslopes aimed at reducing runoff, and development at floodplain edges. Vertical heterogeneity in hydrological properties within the floodplain aquifer alters hydrological response, causing different depths of the floodplain to respond differently to hillslope and river inputs. These vertical variations need to be better taken into account in floodplain and hillslope-floodplain studies. This research demonstrates the importance of understanding the 3D geology and hydrogeology of floodplains in order to advance catchment research and effective flood management measures.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Poster)
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Groundwater flooding, Surface water interaction
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 12 Oct 2016 08:35 +0 (UTC)

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