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Runoff and focused groundwater-recharge response to flooding rains in the arid zone of Australia

Acworth, R. Ian, Rau, Gabriel C., Cuthbert, Mark O., Leggett, Keith and Andersen, Martin S. 2021. Runoff and focused groundwater-recharge response to flooding rains in the arid zone of Australia. Hydrogeology Journal 10.1007/s10040-020-02284-x
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Abstract

A groundwater recharge investigation in the arid area of Australia is presented. The investigation used a wide range of hydrogeological techniques including geological mapping, surface and borehole geophysics, groundwater hydraulics, streambed temperature and pressure monitoring, and hydrogeochemical and environmental tracer sampling, and it was supplemented by analysis of intensity from 18 tipping-bucked rain gauges, climate data and stream run measurementoffs. Run-off and recharge from a 200-mm rainfall event in January 2015, the largest daily rainfall in the local 50-year record, were investigated in detail. While this major storm provided substantial run-off as a potential source for focused, indirect reloading, it only produced enough actual recharge to the shallow aquifer to temporarily halt a long-term groundwater recession. A series of smaller rainfall-runoff events in 2016 produced a similar recharge response. The results suggest that the total magnitude of a flood event is not the main control on indirect groundwater recharge at this location. A deeper aquifer shows no hydraulic response to surface-water flow events and is isolated from the shallow system, consisting with its Pleistocene groundwater age. This supports a growing body of evidence indicating that attributing or predicting generalised changes in reloading to changes in climate in dryland environments should not be attempted without first unravelling the dynamic processes governing groundwater recharge in the locality of interest. The results should prompt more detailed and long-term field investigation in other arid area locations to further understand the episodic and nonlinear nature of recharging in such environments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 1431-2174
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 November 2020
Date of Acceptance: 1 December 2020
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2021 12:12
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/136163

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