Temporal variability of exchange between groundwater and surface water based on high-frequency direct measurements of seepage at the sediment-water interface



[1] Seepage at the sediment-water interface in several lakes, a large river, and an estuary exhibits substantial temporal variability when measured with temporal resolution of 1 min or less. Already substantial seepage rates changed by 7% and 16% in response to relatively small rain events at two lakes in the northeastern USA, but did not change in response to two larger rain events at a lake in Minnesota. However, seepage at that same Minnesota lake changed by 10% each day in response to withdrawals from evapotranspiration. Seepage increased by more than an order of magnitude when a seiche occurred in the Great Salt Lake, Utah. Near the head of a fjord in Puget Sound, Washington, seepage in the intertidal zone varied greatly from −115 to +217 cm d−1 in response to advancing and retreating tides when the time-averaged seepage was upward at +43 cm d−1. At all locations, seepage variability increased by one to several orders of magnitude in response to wind and associated waves. Net seepage remained unchanged by wind unless wind also induced a lake seiche. These examples from sites distributed across a broad geographic region indicate that temporal variability in seepage in response to common hydrological events is much larger than previously realized. At most locations, seepage responded within minutes to changes in surface-water stage and within minutes to hours to groundwater recharge associated with rainfall. Likely implications of this dynamism include effects on water residence time, geochemical transformations, and ecological conditions at and near the sediment-water interface.