Toward quantifying discrete groundwater discharge from frozen seepage faces using thermal infrared images



[1] Frozen groundwater seeps from discrete features, such as fractures and faults, are common along steep faces of cliffs, mines, quarries, and road cuts in cold environments at high elevations and latitudes. Our objective is to test whether thermal infrared imaging can be used to quantify groundwater discharge from such discrete features in freezing conditions. Discrete seeps and freezing cliff faces were simulated in a cold room laboratory with a systematic series of experiments captured through infrared imaging. Two zones of distinct surface temperatures were observed at the ice surface: a zone of relatively warm and constant surface temperature above a zone with high thermal gradients. Experimental conditions impacted the length of the relative warm zone. A strong correlation is observed between length of the relative warm zone and the discharge rate suggesting that groundwater discharge from discrete features could be quantified using noninvasive infrared imaging.