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Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer, SE England

Lee, L. J. E., Lawrence, D. S. L. and Price, M. (2006) Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer, SE England. Journal of Hydrology, 330 (3-4). pp. 604-620. ISSN 0022-1694

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.04.025


Water table response to rainfall was investigated at six sites in the Upper, Middle and Lower Chalk of southern England. Daily time series of rainfall and borehole water level were cross-corretated to investigate seasonal variations in groundwater-level response times, based on periods of 3-month duration. The time tags (in days) yielding significant correlations were compared with the average unsaturated zone thickness during each 3-month period. In general, for cases when the unsaturated zone was greater than 18 m thick, the time tag for a significant water-level response increased rapidly once the depth to the water table exceeded a critical value, which varied from site to site. For shallower water tables, a linear relationship between the depth to the water table and the water-level response time was evident. The observed variations in response time can only be partially accounted for using a diffusive model for propagation through the unsaturated matrix, suggesting that some fissure flow was occurring. The majority of rapid responses were observed during the winter/spring recharge period, when the unsaturated zone is thinnest and the unsaturated zone moisture content is highest, and were more likely to occur when the rainfall intensity exceeded 5 mm/day. At some sites, a very rapid response within 24 h of rainfall was observed in addition to the longer term responses even when the unsaturated zone was up to 64 m thick. This response was generally associated with the autumn period. The results of the cross-correlation analysis provide statistical support for the presence of fissure flow and for the contribution of multiple pathways through the unsaturated zone to groundwater recharge. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:3736
Uncontrolled Keywords:groundwater flow aquifer recharge cross-correlation analysis chalk aquifer water resources UNSATURATED ZONE GROUNDWATER RECHARGE SOLUTE MOVEMENT POROUS ROCK FLOW HAMPSHIRE MECHANISMS PENETRATION MODEL SITE
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