Hydrological Controls on Transient Aquifer Storage in a Karst Watershed
While surface storage of floodwaters is well-known to attenuate flood peaks, transient storage of floodwaters in aquifers is a less recognized mechanism of flood peak attenuation. The hydraulic gradient from aquifer to river controls the magnitude of transient aquifer storage and is ultimately a function of aquifer hydraulic conductivity, and effective porosity. Because bedrock and granular aquifers tend to have lower hydraulic conductivities and porosities, their ability to attenuate flood peaks is generally small. In karst aquifers, however, extensive cave systems create high hydraulic conductivities and porosities that create low antecedent hydraulic gradients between aquifers and rivers. Cave springs can reverse flow during high discharges in rivers, temporarily storing floodwaters in the aquifer thus reducing the magnitude of flood discharge downstream. To date however, very few studies have quantified the magnitude or controls of transient aquifer storage in karst watersheds. We therefore investigate controls on transient aquifer storage by using 10 years of river and groundwater data from the Suwannee River Basin, which flows over the karstic upper Floridan aquifer in north-central Florida. We use multiple linear regression to compare the effects of three hydrological controls on the magnitude of transient aquifer storage: antecedent stage, recharge and slope of hydrograph rise. We show the dominant control on transient aquifer storage is antecedent stage, whereby lower stages result in greater magnitudes of transient aquifer storage. Our results suggest that measures of groundwater levels prior to an event can be useful in determining whether transient aquifer storage will occur and may provide a useful metric for improving predictions of flood magnitudes.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Presented at the AGU Fall Meeting on December 12, 2017 in New Orleans, LA
Scholar Commons Citation
Spellman, Patricia; Martin, Jonathan B.; and Gulley, Jason, "Hydrological Controls on Transient Aquifer Storage in a Karst Watershed" (2017). School of Geosciences Faculty and Staff Publications. 2167.