Depth-dependent hydraulic conductivity distribution patterns of a streambed


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Abstract

Characterization of streambed hydraulic conductivity from the channel surface to a great depth below the channel surface can provide needed information for the determination of stream-aquifer hydrologic connectedness, and it is also important to river restoration. However, knowledge on the streambed hydraulic conductivity for sediments 1 m below the channel surface is scarce. This study describes a method that was used to determine the distribution patterns of streambed hydraulic conductivity for sediments from channel surface to a depth of 15 m below. The method includes Geoprobe's direct-push techniques and Permeameter tests. Direct-push techniques were used to generate the electrical conductivity (EC) logs and to collect sequences of continuous sediment cores from river channels, as well as from the alluvial aquifer connected to the river. Permeameter tests on these sediment cores give the profiles of vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) of the channel sediments and the aquifer materials. This method was applied to produce Kv profiles for a streambed and an alluvial aquifer in the Platte River Valley of Nebraska, USA. Comparison and statistical analysis of the Kv profiles from the river channel and from the proximate alluvial aquifer indicates a special pattern of Kv in the channel sediments. This depth-dependent pattern of Kv distribution for the channel sediments is considered to be produced by hyporheic processes. This Kv-distribution pattern implied that the effect of hyporheic processes on streambed hydraulic conductivity can reach the sediments about 9 m below the channel surface. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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