Ward, Adam S.; Schmadel, Noah M.; Wondzell, Steven M.; Gooseff, Michael N.; Singha, Kamini. 2017. Dynamic hyporheic and riparian flow path geometry through base flow recession in two headwater mountain stream corridors. Water Resources Research. 53(5): 3988-4003. doi: 10.1002/2016WR019875
The hydrologic connectivity between streams and their valley bottoms (stream corridor) is a critical determinant of their ecological function. Ecological functions are known to be spatially and temporally variable, but spatial dimensions of the problem are not easily quantified and thus they are usually overlooked. To estimate the spatial patterns of connectivity, and how connectivity varies with changes in discharge, we developed the hyporheic potential model. We used the model to interpret a series of solute tracer injections in two headwater mountain streams with contrasting valley bottom morphologies to estimate connectivity in the stream corridor. The distributions of flow path origination locations and the lengths of hyporheic flow paths appear to vary with base flow recession, even in cases where transport timescales are apparently unchanged. The modeled distribution of origination locations further allowed us to define a spatial analog to the temporal window of detection associated with solute tracer studies, and enables assessment of connectivity dynamics between streams and their corridors. Altogether, the reduced complexity hyporheic potential model provides an easy way to anticipate the spatial distribution and origination locations of hyporheic flow paths from a basic understanding of the valley bottom characteristics and solute transport timescales.
Keywords: solute transport, solute tracer, riparian, stream corridor, hyporheic, transit time, river corridor, Geomorphology: general, Groundwater/surface water interaction, Groundwater transport, Streamflow, Time series analysis