Diffuse flow and conduit flow in limestone terrain in the Mendip Hills, Somerset (Great Britain)
The hydrogeology of the karstic Carboniferous Limestone is described. Water tracing has established recharge areas for fifteen major springs and water budgets confirm the size of the areas found. Groundwater flow occurs in two modes: turbulent conduit flow and diffuse Darcian flow in fine fractures. Recharge is 50% quickflow via caves and closed depressions and 50% slower percolation. Active storage in the diffuse component (S = 0.92%) is 30 times greater than in phreatic conduits. Diffuse hydraulic conductivity is 0.89 m day−1 and an average of 60–80% of groundwater is transmitted by conduits in this maturely karsted and steeply dipping aquifer.