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Keywords:

  • transient storage;
  • hyporheic zone;
  • OTIS model;
  • solute transport estimation;
  • dye tracer;
  • Rhodamine WT;
  • Willamette Basin

ABSTRACT: Rhodamine WT dye-tracer injections in rivers of the Willamette Basin yield concentration-time curves with characteristically long recession times suggestive of active transient storage processes. The scale of drainage areas contributing to the stream reaches studied in the Willamette Basin ranges from 10 to 12,000 km2. A transient storage assessment of the tracer studies has been completed using the U.S. Geological Survey's One-dimensional Transport with Inflow and Storage (OTIS) model, which incorporates storage exchange and decay functions along with the traditional dispersion and advection transport equation. The analysis estimates solute transport of the dye. It identifies first-order decay coefficients to be on the order of 10−5/sec for the nonconservative Rhodamine W.T. On an individual subreach basis, the first-order decay is slower (typically by an order of magnitude) than the transient storage process, indicating that nonconservative tracers may be used to evaluate transient storage in rivers. In the transient storage analysis, a dimensionless parameter (As/A) expresses the spatial extent of storage zone area relative to stream cross section. In certain reaches of Willamette Basin pool-and-riffle, gravel-bed rivers, this parameter was as large as 0.5. A measure of the storage exchange flux was calculated for each stream subreach in the simulation analysis. This storage exchange is shown subjectively to be higher at higher stream discharges. Hyporheic linkage between streams and subsurface flows is the probable physical mechanism contributing to a significant part of this inferred active transient storage. Hyporheic linkages are further suggested by detailed measurements of river discharge with an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler system delineating zones in two large rivers where water alternately enters and leaves the surface channels through gravel-and-cobble riverbeds. Measurements show patterns of hyporheic exchange that are highly variable in time and space.