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Dynamic contributions of stratified groundwater to streams controls seasonal variations of streamwater transit times

Abstract : Streamwater transit time distributions display a variable proportion of old waters ( ≥1 yr). We hypothesize that the corresponding long transit times result from groundwater contributions to the stream and that seasonal streamwater transit time variations result from 1) the variable contributions of different flowpaths (overland flow, seepage flow and baseflow) and 2) the stratification of groundwater residence times. We develop a parsimonious model to capture the groundwater contribution to the stream discharge and its effect on transient transit times. Infiltration is partitioned according to the aquifer saturation between Boussinesq groundwater flow and overland flow. Time-variable transit time distributions are obtained with a new 2D particle tracking algorithm. Hydraulic conductivity, total and drainable porosities are calibrated by using discharge and CFC tracer data on a crystalline catchment located in Brittany (France). The calibrated models succeed in reproducing CFCs concentrations and discharge dynamics. The groundwater flow contribution to the stream is controlled by the aquifer hydraulic conductivity, while its age is controlled by the drainable and total porosities. Old groundwater ( ≥1 yr) is the source for approximately 75 % of the streamflow with strong seasonal variations (between 40 and 95 %). Mean transit times are approximately 13 years, varying between 6 and 20 years, inversely proportional to the groundwater contribution. These seasonal variations are driven by the groundwater versus overland flow partitioning. The stratification of groundwater residence times in the aquifer plays a minor role in the streamwater transit times but is key for the transit time dynamics of the groundwater contribution to the stream.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 8:53:11 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - 3:52:50 AM


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Jean Marçais, Louis A Derry, Luca Guillaumot, Luc Aquilina, Jean-Raynald de Dreuzy. Dynamic contributions of stratified groundwater to streams controls seasonal variations of streamwater transit times. Water Resources Research, American Geophysical Union, 2022, 58 (3), pp.e2021WR029659. ⟨10.1029/2021wr029659⟩. ⟨insu-03579375v2⟩



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