Exploring conceptual models of infiltration and groundwater recharge on an intermittent river: The role of geologic controls

Fern Beetle-Moorcroft, Margaret Shanafield, Kamini Singha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Study region: This study is along an intermittent reach of the Alamosa River in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado, a river that is typical of the semi-arid southwestern United States with respect to climate, land use, and the impacts of upstream dam regulation. Study focus: We use conceptual steady-state models to identify geologic factors that may control water loss through infiltration. These conceptual models are parameterized according to a range of conditions observed from stream discharge, topographic data, geologic data, and drone magnetometer data. New hydrological insights: The introduction of a fault, variation in the alluvial aquifer hydraulic conductivity, and presence or absence of a confining unit in the numerical models were the primary geologic controls that affected infiltration across the study reach. Conversely, variation in the thickness of the streambed had little impact. This information may help determine future data collection within this and similar semi-arid regions where rivers are controlled by a combination of surface water availability (e.g. through dam regulation) and complex subsurface geology, which are often not well constrained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100814
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
Volume35
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Aquifer recharge
  • Arid hydrology
  • Geophysics
  • Heterogeneity
  • Non-perennial rivers
  • Numerical modeling
  • Streambed dynamics

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