We analyzed the complex dynamics that are involved the groundwater level variations due to the episodic rainfall supply in the Ionian coastal plain surficial aquifer located in Southern Italy. In this aquifer, as a consequence of the particular hydrogeological framework, both direct and lateral recharge mechanisms coexist. Hence, the dynamics of groundwater level variations are quite complex and strongly non-linear. Our focus was essentially on the short-term behavior of groundwater levels, with a specific analysis on episodic rainfall events. To model these dynamics, due to the presence of the preferential pathways in the infiltration processes, a kinematic dispersion wave model was used. Specifically, a one-dimensional and non-linear particle-based numerical model was developed. It uses ideal particles with constant water volume travel, according to celerity and hydraulic dispersion, to simulate the infiltration rate wave through the vadose zone. The infiltration rate that reaches the water table represents the input function to evaluate the aquifer groundwater level fluctuations. As a consequence of the special lithological and storage capacity characteristics of the surficial layers, groundwater flow conditions change from unconfined to confined. The developed model analyzes the direct groundwater supply under natural conditions, including episodic rainfall, and it has been validated using a high-resolution time series of rainfall data and groundwater level obtained from the monitoring station Terra Montonata.
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