Special Issue "Advances in the Study and Understanding of Groundwater Discharge to Surface Water"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021) | Viewed by 11302

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Carlos Duque
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geoscience, Aarhus University, Nordre Ringgade 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Interests: hydrogeology; groundwater modelling; natural tracers; isotopes; heat transport; coastal aquifers; saltwater intrusion; groundwater–surface-water interaction
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Donald Rosenberry
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
United States Geological Survey, Water Mission Area, Denver, Colorado, United States
Interests: groundwater flow; groundwater level; groundwater–surface-water exchange; sediment transport; streamflow; water cycle; hydrology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Groundwater discharge is often vitally important for maintaining or restoring valuable ecosystems in surface water or at the groundwater–surface-water ecotone. Detecting and quantifying groundwater discharge is challenging, because the rates of flow can be very small, exchange is commonly highly heterogeneous both in space and time, and surface-water hydrodynamics can both influence the exchange and hinder measurements. Fortunately, a wide range of methods have been developed during the last decades, advancing our understanding of how to identify groundwater discharge to surface water, including a better use of seepage meters, application of tracers such as heat or isotopes, and improved groundwater-modelling capabilities. This progress has led to a coalescence in understanding the complex mix of hydrological, biological, and chemical processes that occur at the groundwater–surface-water interface, along with the relevant effects on society. Still, many uncertainties and assumptions have led to incomplete knowledge of these processes, including a lack of studies in many regions of the world, insufficient sharing of practical methodologies between scientific disciplines, or the challenge to measure exchange at multiple scales of time and space.  Alternative combinations of methods or new approaches will be needed in order to address these questions in the coming years.

This Special Issue welcomes submissions proposing new or modified methods for the study and quantification of groundwater discharge to rivers, lakes, bays, or seas, including case studies in areas where these types of studies have not previously been conducted.  Studies that incorporate new technologies, or submissions that address the full suite of the hydrological, chemical, and biological processes and influences of groundwater over surface water bodies, are particularly sought.

Dr. Carlos Duque
Dr. Donald O. Rosenberry
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • groundwater discharge
  • seepage meter
  • groundwater numerical modelling
  • tracers in hydrology
  • submarine groundwater discharge
  • surface water bodies

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Advances in the Study and Understanding of Groundwater Discharge to Surface Water
Water 2022, 14(11), 1698; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14111698 - 25 May 2022
Viewed by 627
Abstract
Groundwater discharge is vitally important for maintaining or restoring valuable ecosystems in surface water and at the underlying groundwater-surface-water ecotone [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Exploring Local Riverbank Sediment Controls on the Occurrence of Preferential Groundwater Discharge Points
Water 2022, 14(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14010011 - 22 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1040
Abstract
Groundwater discharge to rivers takes many forms, including preferential groundwater discharge points (PDPs) along riverbanks that are exposed at low flows, with multi-scale impacts on aquatic habitat and water quality. The physical controls on the spatial distribution of PDPs along riverbanks are not [...] Read more.
Groundwater discharge to rivers takes many forms, including preferential groundwater discharge points (PDPs) along riverbanks that are exposed at low flows, with multi-scale impacts on aquatic habitat and water quality. The physical controls on the spatial distribution of PDPs along riverbanks are not well-defined, rendering their prediction and representation in models challenging. To investigate the local riverbank sediment controls on PDP occurrence, we tested drone-based and handheld thermal infrared to efficiently map PDP locations along two mainstem rivers. Early in the study, we found drone imaging was better suited to locating tributary and stormwater inflows, which created relatively large water surface thermal anomalies in winter, compared to PDPs that often occurred at the sub-meter scale and beneath riparian tree canopy. Therefore, we primarily used handheld thermal infrared imaging from watercraft to map PDPs and larger seepage faces along 12-km of the fifth-order Housatonic River in Massachusetts, USA and 26-km of the Farmington River in Connecticut, USA. Overall, we mapped 31 riverbank PDPs along the Housatonic reach that meanders through lower permeability soils, and 104 PDPs along the Farmington reach that cuts through sandier sediments. Riverbank soil parameters extracted at PDP locations from the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database did not differ substantially from average bank soils along either reach, although the Farmington riverbank soils were on average 5× more permeable than Housatonic riverbank soils, likely contributing to the higher observed prevalence of PDPs. Dissolved oxygen measured in discharge water at these same PDPs varied widely, but showed no relation to measured sand, clay, or organic matter content in surficial soils indicating a lack of substantial near-surface aerobic reaction. The PDP locations were investigated for the presence of secondary bank structures, and commonly co-occurred with riparian tree root masses indicating the importance of localized physical controls on the spatial distribution of riverbank PDPs. Full article
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Article
Numerical Representation of Groundwater-Surface Water Exchange and the Effect on Streamflow Contribution Estimates
Water 2021, 13(14), 1923; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141923 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1077
Abstract
The effects of streams and drainage representation in 3D numerical catchment scale models on estimated streamflow contribution were investigated. MODFLOW-USG was used to represent complex geology and a stream network with two different conceptualizations—one with equal cell discretization in the entire model domain [...] Read more.
The effects of streams and drainage representation in 3D numerical catchment scale models on estimated streamflow contribution were investigated. MODFLOW-USG was used to represent complex geology and a stream network with two different conceptualizations—one with equal cell discretization in the entire model domain and another with refined cell discretization along stream reaches. Both models were calibrated against a large data set including hydraulic heads and streamflow measurements. Though the optimized hydraulic parameters and statistical performance of both model conceptualizations were comparable, their estimated streamflow contribution differed substantially. In the conceptualization with equal cell discretization, the drainage contribution to the streamflow was 13% compared to 41% in the conceptualization with refined cell discretization. The increase in drainage contribution to streamflow was attributed to the increase in drainage area in proximity to the stream reaches arising from the refined discretization. e.g., the cell refinement along stream reaches reduced the area occupied by stream cells allowing for increased drain area adjacent to the stream reaches. As such, an increase in drainage area equivalent to 7% yielded a 146% increase in drainage contribution to streamflow. In-stream field measurements of groundwater-surface water exchange fluxes that were qualitatively compared to calculated fluxes from the models indicated that estimates from the refined model discretization were more representative. Hence, the results of this study accentuate the importance of being able to represent stream and drain flow contribution correctly, that is, to achieve representative exchange fluxes that are crucial in simulating groundwater–surface water exchange of both flow and solute transport in catchment scale modeling. To that end, the in-stream measurements of exchange fluxes showed the potential to serve as a proxy to numerically estimate drainage contribution that is not readily available at the catchment scale. Full article
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Article
Comparative Analysis of Runoff and Evaporation Assessment Methods to Evaluate Wetland–Groundwater Interaction in Mediterranean Evaporitic-Karst Aquatic Ecosystem
Water 2021, 13(11), 1482; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13111482 - 25 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 958
Abstract
This work compares the applicability of several free-surface evaporation and runoff equations in simulating water level variations of small Mediterranean wetlands. The Amarga and Jarales wetland are two pilot sites with an evaporite-karst genesis located in southern Spain. The water level was continuously [...] Read more.
This work compares the applicability of several free-surface evaporation and runoff equations in simulating water level variations of small Mediterranean wetlands. The Amarga and Jarales wetland are two pilot sites with an evaporite-karst genesis located in southern Spain. The water level was continuously recorded in both wetlands, and exhaustive weather monitoring was performed. The combined datasets have permitted quantification of the surficial elements of their water budget (precipitation, runoff, and evaporation). Several campaigns of groundwater level measurements were also done to characterize the direction of groundwater flows. The morphometrical analysis of the Jarales wetland was accurately performed based on a LiDAR dataset. A total of 225 limnimetric simulations of the Jarales (90) and Amarga (135) wetlands were performed, combining different evaporation and runoff equations. During the study period, the curve number method, coupled with the Penman equation, reached the Jarales wetland’s best calibrations. The Vardavas–Fountoulakis modification of the Penman model fit better with the Amarga wetland record. The obtained results permit specification of the water budget of both wetlands during several years and confirm that the groundwater–surface water relationship affects the wetland hydric dynamic to different degrees. Nonetheless, the limnimetric models were calibrated for a short period, including dry years, making it necessary to extend the control period longer and validate the models under different hydroclimatic conditions. Finally, the differences between wetland functioning are explained in a conceptual hydrological model that can be useful for wetland conservation and management of related aquatic ecosystems. The understanding of the origin and fate of water in wetlands permits assessment of how future scenarios would affect hydric functioning and suggests adequate conservation measurements. Full article
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Article
Influence of Groundwater Discharge on Temporal Evolution in Two Wetlands of an Intensely Anthropized Area: Analysis Using an Integrated Approach
Water 2021, 13(5), 697; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050697 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 988
Abstract
The Campo de Dalías is a coastal plain, which has undergone a significant change in land use and intensive exploitation of groundwater. A series of diverse data has been analyzed: aerial and satellite images (1956–2013), evolution of the water table (1973–2019), and exploitation [...] Read more.
The Campo de Dalías is a coastal plain, which has undergone a significant change in land use and intensive exploitation of groundwater. A series of diverse data has been analyzed: aerial and satellite images (1956–2013), evolution of the water table (1973–2019), and exploitation of different aquifers (1964–2017). The results indicate: (1) increase in the surface area occupied by greenhouses, (2) increase in abstraction of groundwater, and (3) an opposite trend in the piezometric evolution of the two aquifers (deep and shallow). All this has had a significant effect on the evolution of the “Punta Entinas” wetland, which has shown a continuous increase in flooded surface area, especially pronounced since 1994. Its waters have intermediate hydrochemical characteristics between seawater and groundwater and reflect the local influence of groundwater on the wetland. The applied methodology is useful in areas with sustained human activity, land use changes, and intensive groundwater exploitation, and can contribute to the understanding of surface water-groundwater dependence and wetland management. Full article
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Article
Variable Seepage Meter Efficiency in High-Permeability Settings
Water 2020, 12(11), 3267; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113267 - 21 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 896
Abstract
The efficiency of seepage meters, long considered a fixed property associated with the meter design, is not constant in highly permeable sediments. Instead, efficiency varies substantially with seepage bag fullness, duration of bag attachment, depth of meter insertion into the sediments, and seepage [...] Read more.
The efficiency of seepage meters, long considered a fixed property associated with the meter design, is not constant in highly permeable sediments. Instead, efficiency varies substantially with seepage bag fullness, duration of bag attachment, depth of meter insertion into the sediments, and seepage velocity. Tests conducted in a seepage test tank filled with isotropic sand with a hydraulic conductivity of about 60 m/d indicate that seepage meter efficiency varies widely and decreases unpredictably when the volume of the seepage bag is greater than about 65 to 70 percent full or less than about 15 to 20 percent full. Seepage generally decreases with duration of bag attachment even when operated in the mid-range of bag fullness. Stopping flow through the seepage meter during bag attachment or removal also results in a decrease in meter efficiency. Numerical modeling indicates efficiency is inversely related to hydraulic conductivity in highly permeable sediments. An efficiency close to 1 for a meter installed in sediment with a hydraulic conductivity of 1 m/d decreases to about 60 and then 10 percent when hydraulic conductivity is increased to 10 and 100 m/d, respectively. These large efficiency reductions apply only to high-permeability settings, such as wave- or tidally washed coarse sand or gravel, or fluvial settings with an actively mobile sand or gravel bed, where low resistance to flow through the porous media allows bypass flow around the seepage cylinder to readily occur. In more typical settings, much greater resistance to bypass flow suppresses small changes in meter resistance during inflation or deflation of seepage bags. Full article
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Article
Tracing the Spatial Distribution of Whole-Lake Exchange of Groundwater and Lake Water in Low-Hydraulic Gradient Systems Using δ18O and Electrical Conductivity and Uncertain End-Member Mixing Analysis
Water 2020, 12(6), 1608; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061608 - 04 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1214
Abstract
δ18O and electrical conductivity (EC) were used successfully to trace the spatial distribution of whole-lake groundwater-lake exchange for a small (four ha) groundwater-fed lake situated in a low relief and low hydraulic gradient area. The method relies on quick sampling of [...] Read more.
δ18O and electrical conductivity (EC) were used successfully to trace the spatial distribution of whole-lake groundwater-lake exchange for a small (four ha) groundwater-fed lake situated in a low relief and low hydraulic gradient area. The method relies on quick sampling of shallow groundwater, direct analysis of EC in the field, and relatively in-expensive analysis of δ18O in the laboratory. Ternary uncertain end-member mixing analysis (precipitation, groundwater, and lake water) quantified the composition of water discharging to and recharging from the lake. The tracer distribution and mixing analysis were in agreement with the interpreted groundwater flow near the lake. The use of only one tracer (either δ18O or EC) gave the same results for the recharge segments, but the discharge segments changed the origin of the water from being groundwater to precipitation controlled. The two tracers complemented each other, especially with different signals in precipitation and groundwater. The uncertain end-members were assessed based on local (groundwater and lake water) and off-site (precipitation) data. The off-site data were found to be useful if it contained representative information on local-site seasonality (uncertainty, variance). Final end-member concentrations could explain the transience of the hydrology at the site (i.e., flooding of the area adjacent to the lake during periods with high precipitation, and variability of the δ18O signal in precipitation). This methodology potentially represents a new option to study groundwater-lake systems. The tracer information collected over only two days is useful by itself for developing the next steps like the quantification of fluxes based on other standard methods (Darcy approach, seepage meters, or temperature). The tracer information can provide quantitative estimation of inputs and outputs by using the mixing analysis. Full article
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Article
Using Isotopes (H, O, and Sr) and Major Ions to Identify Hydrogeochemical Characteristics of Groundwater in the Hongjiannao Lake Basin, Northwest China
Water 2020, 12(5), 1467; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051467 - 21 May 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1196
Abstract
Hongjiannao Lake is the largest desert freshwater lake in the Ordos Plateau, China, and the relict gull is an endangered species that uses the lake for its habitat, with the largest colonies being located there. Using hydrochemical parameters, stable hydrogen and oxygen isotopes, [...] Read more.
Hongjiannao Lake is the largest desert freshwater lake in the Ordos Plateau, China, and the relict gull is an endangered species that uses the lake for its habitat, with the largest colonies being located there. Using hydrochemical parameters, stable hydrogen and oxygen isotopes, and strontium isotopes, we investigated the hydrogeochemical characteristics of groundwater. As a result, the major cations of the groundwater were found to be Ca2+ and Na+, the major anion was found to be HCO3−, and the hydrochemical facies were mainly found to be HCO3–Ca, HCO3–Na. and HCO3–Ca–Na. The hydrochemical formation of groundwater was controlled by both evaporation and water–rock interactions, and carbonate and sulfate minerals dissolved or precipitated in the groundwater. On the basis of isotope analysis, groundwater was affected by evaporation and δ18O enrichment, and the higher salinity of Hongjiannao Lake suffered from intensive evaporation. The higher 87Sr/86Sr ratio and lower concentrations of Sr2+ in the groundwater were derived from the dissolution of silicate minerals, whereas the opposite concentrations were due to the dissolution of carbonate and sulfate minerals. Based on this work, such results can be used to research groundwater recharge into the lake and to protect water quality. Full article
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Review

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Review
Methods in Capturing the Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Flow and Biogeochemical Reactivity in Sandy Beach Aquifers: A Review
Water 2021, 13(6), 782; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13060782 - 13 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 957
Abstract
Sandy beach aquifers are complex hydrological and biogeochemical systems where fresh groundwater and seawater mix. The extent of the intertidal mixing zone and the rates of circulating flows within beaches are a primary control on porewater chemistry and microbiology of the intertidal subsurface. [...] Read more.
Sandy beach aquifers are complex hydrological and biogeochemical systems where fresh groundwater and seawater mix. The extent of the intertidal mixing zone and the rates of circulating flows within beaches are a primary control on porewater chemistry and microbiology of the intertidal subsurface. Interplay between the hydrological and biogeochemical processes at these land-sea transition zones moderate fluxes of chemicals, particulates, heavy metals, and biota across the aquifer-ocean interface, affecting coastal water quality and nutrient loads to marine ecosystems. Thus, it is important to characterize hydrological and biogeochemical processes in beach aquifers when estimating material fluxes to the ocean. This can be achieved through a suite of cross-disciplinary measurements of beach groundwater flow and chemistry. In this review, we present measurement approaches that have been developed and employed to characterize the physical (geology, topography, subsurface hydrology) and biogeochemical (solute and particulate distributions, reaction rates) properties of and processes occurring within sandy intertidal aquifers. As applied to beach systems, we discuss vibracoring, sample collection, laboratory experiments, variable-density considerations, instrument construction, and sensor technologies. We discuss advantages and limitations of typical hydrologic field sampling methods when used to investigate beach aquifers and provide a measurement framework for researchers seeking to sample and collect data from these systems. Full article
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Review
Salt Marsh Hydrogeology: A Review
Water 2021, 13(4), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040543 - 20 Feb 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1494
Abstract
Groundwater–surface water exchange in salt marsh ecosystems mediates nearshore salt, nutrient, and carbon budgets with implications for biological productivity and global climate. Despite their importance, a synthesis of salt marsh groundwater studies is lacking. In this review, we summarize drivers mediating salt marsh [...] Read more.
Groundwater–surface water exchange in salt marsh ecosystems mediates nearshore salt, nutrient, and carbon budgets with implications for biological productivity and global climate. Despite their importance, a synthesis of salt marsh groundwater studies is lacking. In this review, we summarize drivers mediating salt marsh hydrogeology, review field and modeling techniques, and discuss patterns of exchange. New data from a Delaware seepage meter study are reported which highlight small-scale spatial variability in exchange rates. A synthesis of the salt marsh hydrogeology literature reveals a positive relationship between tidal range and submarine groundwater discharge but not porewater exchange, highlighting the multidimensional drivers of marsh hydrogeology. Field studies are heavily biased towards microtidal systems of the US East Coast, with little global information available. A preliminary estimate of marsh porewater exchange along the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Bights is 8–30 × 1013 L y−1, equivalent to recirculating the entire volume of seawater overlying the shelf through tidal marsh sediments in ~30–90 years. This review concludes with a discussion of critical questions to address that will decrease uncertainty in global budget estimates and enhance our capacity to predict future responses to global climate change. Full article
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