• regional groundwater flow;
  • hydraulic conductivity;
  • depth-dependence

[1] Regional groundwater flow is critical for understanding a variety of geologic processes. Unfortunately, few studies have considered the impact of gradual decrease in hydraulic conductivity (K) with depth on groundwater flow. In this study, regional groundwater flow through a basin is analyzed under conditions of exponentially decaying K with depth. We found that the development of local versus regional flow systems is sensitive to the decay exponent of K. With higher rates of decrease in K with depth, the penetration depth of local flow systems increases, the regional flow weakens, the amount of recharge decreases, and less water reaches the regional discharge zone. Therefore, the depth decay of K should not be neglected when analyzing hydrologic problems related to regional groundwater flow.