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Open AccessArticle

Preliminary Characterization of Underground Hydrological Processes under Multiple Rainfall Conditions and Rocky Desertification Degrees in Karst Regions of Southwest China

by Guijing Li 1,2,†, Matteo Rubinato 3, Long Wan 1,2,†, Bin Wu 2, Jiufu Luo 1,2, Jianmei Fang 2 and Jinxing Zhou 1,2,*
1
Jianshui Research Station, School of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
2
Key Laboratory of State Forestry and Grassland Administration on Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
3
School of Energy, Construction and Environment & Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, CV1 5FB Coventry, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Water 2020, 12(2), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020594
Received: 22 January 2020 / Revised: 14 February 2020 / Accepted: 18 February 2020 / Published: 21 February 2020
Karst regions are widely distributed in Southwest China and due to the complexity of their geologic structure, it is very challenging to collect data useful to provide a better understanding of surface, underground and fissure flows, needed to calibrate and validate numerical models. Without characterizing these features, it is very problematic to fully establish rainfall–runoff processes associated with soil loss in karst landscapes. Water infiltrated rapidly to the underground in rocky desertification areas. To fill this gap, this experimental work was completed to preliminarily determine the output characteristics of subsurface and underground fissure flows and their relationships with rainfall intensities (30 mm h−1, 60 mm h−1 and 90 mm h−1) and bedrock degrees (30%, 40% and 50%), as well as the role of underground fissure flow in the near-surface rainfall–runoff process. Results indicated that under light rainfall conditions (30 mm h−1), the hydrological processes observed were typical of Dunne overland flows; however, under moderate (30 mm h−1) and high rainfall conditions (90 mm h−1), hydrological processes were typical of Horton overland flows. Furthermore, results confirmed that the generation of underground runoff for moderate rocky desertification (MRD) and severe rocky desertification (SRD) happened 18.18% and 45.45% later than the timing recorded for the light rocky desertification (LRD) scenario. Additionally, results established that the maximum rate of underground runoff increased with the increase of bedrock degrees and the amount of cumulative underground runoff measured under different rocky desertification was SRD > MRD > LRD. In terms of flow characterization, for the LRD configuration under light rainfall intensity the underground runoff was mainly associated with soil water, which was accounting for about 85%–95%. However, under moderate and high rainfall intensities, the underground flow was mainly generated from fissure flow. View Full-Text
Keywords: rock–soil contact area; fissure flow; karst rocky desertification; runoff; rainfall simulation rock–soil contact area; fissure flow; karst rocky desertification; runoff; rainfall simulation
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Li, G.; Rubinato, M.; Wan, L.; Wu, B.; Luo, J.; Fang, J.; Zhou, J. Preliminary Characterization of Underground Hydrological Processes under Multiple Rainfall Conditions and Rocky Desertification Degrees in Karst Regions of Southwest China. Water 2020, 12, 594.

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