Slope deposits and water paths in a spring catchment, Frankenwald, Bavaria, Germany

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The spring catchment under study is underlain by shale, on which several layers of slope sediments (cover-beds) are deposited. The upper of these layers contain eolian fines mixed into shale-derived debris, which latter material entirely comprises the basal cover-bed. Due to its dislocation by solifluction, the shale debris has a tegular structure. This leads to hydraulic anisotropy, particularly where no fine earth occurs. Thus, water that seeps into such material is forced to flow laterally while vertical movement is impeded. The basal cover-bed therefore hosts a deep aquifer. Only during major discharge events, excess hydrostatic pressure makes water flow into upper parts of the soils, being mixed with surficially interflowing water. Most of the time, however, there are two levels of water flow at different depths with different dwelling times, which finding is supported by probably geogenic sulphur isotopes in the deeply flowing water that are different from precipitation water.

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