In this study, a synthetic modeling approach is proposed to quantify the effect of the amount and direction of the exchange flow on the karstic spring discharge fluctuations under different hydrologic conditions corresponding to high and low flow conditions. We hypothesis that the spring discharge fluctuations constitute a valuable proxy to understand the internal processes of the karst system. An ensemble of spring hydrographs was synthetically produced to highlight the effect of exchange flow by exploring the plausible range of variability of coefficients of exchange flow, conduit diameter, and matrix hydraulic conductivity. Moreover, the change of the rate of point recharge through the karst conduit allows for the quantifying of the sensibility of the spring hydrograph to the directions of exchange flow. We show that increasing the point recharge lies to a remarkable linear recession coefficient (β
) as an indication of the conduit flow regime. However, a reduction in and/or lack of the point recharge caused the recession coefficient to change to exponential (α
) due to the dominant effect of the matrix restrained flow regime and/or conduit-influenced flow regime. The simulations highlight that the exchange flow process from the conduit to the matrix occurred in a short period and over a restricted part of the conduit flow regime (CFR). Conversely, the exchange flow dumped from the matrix to the conduit occurs as a long-term process. A conceptual model is introduced to compare spring hydrographs’ characteristics (i.e., the peak discharge, the volume of baseflow, and the slope of the recession curve) under the various flow conditions with the directions of the exchange flow between the conduit and the matrix.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited