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Recharge and Topographical Controls on Groundwater Circulation in Shallow Crystalline Rock Aquifers revealed by CFC-based Age Data

Abstract : Groundwater transit time and flow path are key factors controlling nitrogen retention and removal capacity at the catchment scale (Abbott et al., 2016), but the relative importance of hydrogeological and topographical factors in determining these parameters remains uncertain (Kolbe et al., 2016). To address this unknown, we used numerical modelling techniques calibrated with CFC groundwater age data to quantify transit time and flow path in an unconfined aquifer in Brittany, France. We assessed the relative importance of parameters (aquifer depth, porosity, arrangement of geological layers, and permeability profile), hydrology (recharge rate), and topography in determining characteristic flow distances (Leray et al., 2016). We found that groundwater flow was highly local (mean travel distance of 350 m) but also relatively old (mean CFC age of 40 years). Sensitivity analysis revealed that groundwater travel distances were not sensitive to geological parameters within the constraints of the CFC age data. However, circulation was sensitive to topography in lowland areas where the groundwater table was close to the land surface, and to recharge rate in upland areas where water input modulated the free surface of the aquifer. We quantified these differences with a local groundwater ratio (rGW-LOCAL) defined as the mean groundwater travel distance divided by the equivalent surface distance water would have traveled along the land surface. Lowland rGW-LOCAL was near 1, indicating primarily topographic controls. Upland rGW-LOCALwas 1.6, meaning the groundwater recharge area was substantially larger than the topographically-defined catchment. This ratio was applied to other catchments in Brittany to test its relevance in comparing controls on groundwater circulation within and among catchments. REFERENCES Abbott et al., 2016, Using multi-tracer inference to move beyond single-catchment ecohydrology. Earth-Science Reviews. Kolbe et al., 2016, Coupling 3D groundwater modeling with CFC-based age dating to classify local groundwater circulation in an unconfined crystalline aquifer. J. Hydrol. Leray et al., 2016, Residence time distributions for hydrologic systems: Mechanistic foundations and steady-state analytical solutions. J. Hydrol.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-01417015
Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 15, 2016 - 11:00:50 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 6, 2020 - 3:38:32 PM

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  • HAL Id : insu-01417015, version 1

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Benjamin W. Abbott, Tamara Kolbe, Jean Marçais, Zahra Thomas, Luc Aquilina, et al.. Recharge and Topographical Controls on Groundwater Circulation in Shallow Crystalline Rock Aquifers revealed by CFC-based Age Data . American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2016, American Geophysical Union, Dec 2016, San Francisco, United States. pp.H21B-1395. ⟨insu-01417015⟩

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