A theoretical analysis of groundwater flow in small drainage basins


  • J. Tóth


Theoretically, three types of flow systems may occur in a small basin: local, intermediate, and regional. The local systems are separated by subvertical boundaries, and the systems of different order are separated by subhorizontal boundaries. The higher the topographic relief, the greater is the importance of the local systems. The flow lines of large unconfined flow systems do not cross major topographic features. Stagnant bodies of groundwater occur at points where flow systems meet or branch. Recharge and discharge areas alternate; thus only part of the basin will contribute to the baseflow of its main stream. Motion of groundwater is sluggish or nil under extended flat areas, with little chance of the water being freshened. Water level fluctuations decrease with depth, and only a small percentage of the total volume of the groundwater in the basin participates in the hydrologic cycle.