Reduction of the hyporheic zone volume due to the stream-aquifer interaction

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Abstract

[1] Pore water in stream sediments is continuously exchanged with the surface water from the overlying stream. This exchange of water and solutes that occurs across the stream-sediment interface plays an important role for fluvial ecology because of the unique biochemical conditions, rich biodiversity, and high rates of metabolism. While many studies have observed the extent of the hyporheic zone to be modified by changes in the level of the groundwater table, the actual importance of this interaction is still difficult to quantify. Here, we focus on the case of bedform induced hyporheic exchange to show how the the volume of hyporheic sediments that receive water from the stream is significantly reduced by the upwelling of subsurface water. A simple scaling relationship for the assessment of maximum depth of the hyporheic zone is proposed by relating hyporheic flow to the groundwater discharge in an aquifer with given hydraulic properties and head difference between the stream and the aquifer.

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