Self organized spatio-temporal structure within the fractured Vadose Zone: The influence of dynamic overloading at fracture intersections



[1] Under low flow conditions (where gravity and capillary forces dominate) within an unsaturated fracture network, fracture intersections act as capillary barriers to integrate flow from above and then release it as a pulse below. Water exiting a fracture intersection is often thought to enter the single connected fracture with the lowest invasion pressure. When the accumulated volume varies between intersections, the smaller volume intersections can be overloaded to cause all of the available fractures exiting an intersection to flow. We included the dynamic overloading process at fracture intersections within our previously discussed model where intersections were modeled as tipping buckets connected within a two-dimensional diamond lattice. With dynamic overloading, the flow behavior transitioned smoothly from diverging to converging flow with increasing overload parameter, as a consequence of a heterogeneous field, and they impose a dynamic structure where additional pathways activate or deactivate in time.