Surface Water And Groundwater Environmental Sciences Essay

The hydrological rhythm describes the uninterrupted motion of H2O above, on, and below the surface of the Earth. The H2O on the Earth ‘s surface – surface H2O – occurs as watercourses, lakes, rivers every bit good as bays and wetlands. The H2O below the surface of the Earth chiefly is ground H2O, but it besides includes dirt H2O ( Sphocleous, 2000 ) . Interactions between groundwater and surface H2O play a critical function in the operation of riparian ecosystems.

These interactions can hold important deductions for both H2O measure and quality. Identifying possible exchange of H2O between the aquifer and watercourse channel has hence been investigated by many research workers utilizing a assortment of methods ( USGS – Land Water Information, 2008 ) .

Measuring groundwater-surface H2O interactions is frequently complex and hard. There are many factors which influence groundwater-surface H2O interactions such as river bed features, geology, geomorphology and clime. In general a figure of methods have been used to determine the nature of groundwater surface H2O interactions across different catchments.

These methods include several tracers used to place the exchange of surface and groundwater, such as heat, ion chemical science, isotopes and viruses. Potential surface aquifer interactions have besides been quantified utilizing distant detection and theoretical accounts ( USGS, 2008 ; Kalbus et Al, 2006 ) .

The intent of this essay is to reexamine the assorted techniques used to find groundwater and surface H2O interactions and their importance whilst embracing important instance surveies from around the universe and within Australia.


Surface H2O and groundwater ( GW-SW ) have long been considered separate entities, and have been investigated separately.

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Although chemical, biological and physical belongingss of surface H2O and groundwater are so different, they are non stray constituents of the hydrologic system, but alternatively interact in a assortment of physiographic and climatic landscapes. Therefore development or taint of one commonly affects the other ( Kalbus et al, 2006 ) . To understand GW-SW interactions, it is necessary to understand the effects of the hydrogeological environment on GW flow systems, that is the effects of topography, geology, and clime as these factors are the major influences on the type of techniques use to find GW-SW interactions ( see figures 1, 2 & A ; 3 ) ( USGS, 2008 ) .

Figure 1. Groundwater ooze into surface H2O Figure 2. Subaqueous springs ensuing from land

H2O flow through extremely permeable deposits ( USGS, 2008 ) ( USGS, 2008 )

Figure 3. Ground-water flow waies vary greatly in length, deepness and travel clip from points of recharge to points of discharge in the ground-water system ( USGS, 2008 )

Many surveies of GW-SW interactions involve the usage of more than one technique in trying to find nature of exchanges. Environmental tracers are of course happening dissolved components, or physical belongingss of H2O that can be used to track H2O motion through H2O sheds. Often tracers such as CFCs ( CFC ‘s ) , conservative and non-conservative ions, stable and radio-isotopes can be coupled with piezometric monitoring and computing machine patterning to assistance in finding the motion and character of GW or SW ( Hohener et al, 2003 ) .

CFC ‘s are man-made halogenated volatile organic compounds that have been manufactured since 1930 and can be detected analytically in H2O in little concentrations. Previous reappraisal articles have on occasion summarised the usage of CFC ‘s as tracers for dating pristine groundwater as a failure due to local CFC taint in surplus of the equilibrium with modern air. However, Chlorofluorocarbons do supply hydrogeological tracers and dating tools for immature groundwater on a time-scale of 50 old ages ( Hohener et al, 2003 ) .

Since the mid 1970 ‘s, Chlorofluorocarbons have been used routinely by hydrologists and assorted subjects, for dating and following H2O multitudes. Using gas chromatographs and negatron gaining control sensors, analytical methods for Chlorofluorocarbons in H2O with sensing bounds for some peculiar CFC ‘s, have been developed. By and large, the presence of noticeable concentrations of Chlorofluorocarbons in groundwater indicates recharge after the late 1940 ‘s, or commixture of older H2O with younger H2O. Groundwater samples with CFC concentrations between the analytical sensing bound and the equilibrium with atmospheric concentrations at recharge temperature can potentially be used for age-dating. The usage of Chlorofluorocarbons dating techniques allows hydrologists and scientists likewise to find groundwater recharge and blending helping in observing GW-SW interactions ( Hohener et al, 2003 ; Schilling et Al, 2010 ) .

Research workers utilize a broad assortment of conservative and non-conservative tracers for hydrological surveies. In add-on, stable isotopes of O and H, which are portion of the H2O molecule, are used to find the commixture of Waterss from different beginnings ( USGS, 2008 ; Rodgers et Al, 2004 ) . This is successful because of the differences in the isotopic composing of precipitation among recharge countries, the alterations in the isotoic composing of shallow subsurface H2O caused by vaporization and temporal variableness in the isotopic composing of precipitation relation to groundwater. For illustration, 87Sr/86Sr ratios can be used to separate between groundwater discharge and surface commixture. Strontium isotopes used in combination with more conventional tracers such as heavy hydrogen and 18O have helped to set up the beginnings of differing groundwater types come ining lakes ( Rodgers et Al, 2004 ) .

Radioactive isotopes are utile indexs for the sum of clip that H2O has spent in the groundwater system. Deuterium and 18O have been used together with both radioactive tracers ( 3H/3He ) and other non-conventional tracers like rare Earth elements ( REEs ) to find groundwater influx and escape from big lakes such as East African Rift Valley lakes ( Ojiambo et al. , in reappraisal ) . Lyons et Al. ( 1998 ) besides have used beginnings of both radioactive ( 36Cl ) and non-radioactive ( 37Cl ) tracers to determine beginnings of solutes for Antarctic lake systems ( Lyons et Al, 1998 ) .

Another utile index is 222Radon which is a chemically inert radioactive gas that has a half life of lone 3-4 yearss. It is produced of course in groundwater as a merchandise of the radioactive decay of 226radium in uranium-bearing stones and deposits ( Lyons et Al, 1998 ) . Several surveies have documented that Rn can be used to place locations of important groundwater input into a watercourse, such as from springs. In France a survey was conducted where Rn was used to find stream-water loss to groundwater as a consequence of ground-water backdowns ( USGS, 2008 ) .

Figure 4 shows the rate of biogeochemical procedures during the infiltration of river H2O into an alluvial aquifer ( USGS, 2008 )

As shown in figure 4, crisp alterations in chemical concentrations were detected over short distances as H2O from the Lot River in France moved into its immediate alluvial aquifer in response to pumping from a well. An environmental tracer was used to find the extent of commixture of surface H2O with land H2O, and Rn was used to find the inflow rate of watercourse H2O. Then the rate at which dissolved metals reacted to organize solid stage during motion of watercourse H2O toward the pumping well could be calculated ( USGS, 2008 ) .

Conservative and non-conservative ions as tracers can besides be used to parameterize groundwater theoretical accounts every bit good as to cipher the age and recharge location of land Waterss. This can be done by straight presenting 3H in a groundwater system to find groundwater flow waies which assists in the theoretical account parameterization coupled with the usage of heavy hydrogen, 18O, 3H/3He ratios, and the late developed 4He in-growth technique to steer parameterization of a groundwater theoretical account of a regional aquifer ( Sophocleous, 2000 ) . Acquaintance with the usage and restrictions of legion conservative and non-conservative tracers to anchor H2O and surface H2O environments is an of import constituent with possible applications of these techniques, GW-SW interactions can be inferred ( Sphocleous, 2000 ; Schilling et Al, 2010 ) .

In Australia, the conveyance of saline groundwater from local and regional aquifers to the lower River Murray is thought to be influenced by lagunas and wetlands present in next flood plains. In the survey by Banks et Al, ( 2009 ) , interactions between a saline laguna and semi-confined aquifer at a flood plain on the River Murray were studied utilizing hydrogeological techniques and environmental tracers ( Cl- , I?2H and I?18O ) ( Banks et al, 2009 ) .

The consequences showed utilizing piezometric surface monitoring that the laguna acted as a flow-through system stoping local and regional groundwater flow. The mass balance was determined utilizing chloride, and showed that about 70 % of the lagunas winter volume was lost due to vaporization. Next a stable isotope mass balance was used to gauge escape from the laguna to the underlying aquifer. This showed that about 0-38 % of the entire groundwater influx into the laguna was lost to leakage, as opposed to 62-100 % groundwater influx which was lost to vaporization ( Banks et Al, 2009 ) .

Through the usage of piezometric surface monitoring and tracers, Banks et Al, ( 2009 ) , were able to find GW-SW interactions. This allowed them to reason that the flood plain wetland behaved as groundwater flow-through systems, stoping groundwater discharge, concentrating it and finally reloading more saline H2O to the flood plain aquifer. Bing able to follow, find and understand GW-SW interactions such as those presented here, finally benefits effectual direction of salt in Australia ( Banks et Al, 2005 ) .

Further surveies of the Murray River and the Murray Basin have concluded that salt could besides be contributed to by flow ordinance and H2O recreation for irrigation as this could well impact the exchange of surface H2O between the Murray River and its flood plains ( Allison et al, 1990 ; Lamontage et Al, 2005 ) . Through usage of piezometric surface monitoring and environmental tracers ( Cl- , I?2H and I?18O ) , Lamontagne et Al, was able to reason that Murray River was losing under low flow conditions. Environmental tracer informations suggested that the beginning of groundwater is chiefly bank recharge in the riparian zone and a combination of diffuse rainfall recharge elsewhere on the inundation field. This information was critical in decoding that bank discharge occurred during some flood recession periods and understanding that the manner in which the H2O tabular array responded to alterations in river degree was a map of the type of watercourse bank nowadays ( Lamontage et al, 2005 ) .

In the Western Murray basin, the glade of native flora in a semi-arid part of southern Australia is thought to hold lead to additions in Groundwater recharge. Unsaturated zone chloride and matric suction profile estimates suggest there is a important clip hold in aquifer response to pre and post glade recharge ( Allison et al, 1990 ) . Predictions of the clip hold slowdown in aquifer response have been verified utilizing dullard hydrographs. The consequences show that in some countries of light dirt and shallow H2O tabular array the H2O is now lifting, nevertheless in other countries of heavy dirt the H2O is non yet get downing to lift. The effects of increased recharge on the salt of the River Murray, a major H2O resource, have been predicted that the salt of the river will increase about 1AµS centimeters -1 twelvemonth -1 over the following 50 old ages. These consequences show the important function hydrological analysis and environmental tracers play in major resource direction throughout Australia and potentially the universe ( Allison et al, 1990 ) .


Groundwater and Surface H2O are non stray constituents of the hydrological system and hence should non be studied or managed as such. There are many factors which influence and command both GW and SW flow waies and interactions within the hydrological rhythm. Through usage of supervising systems, modeling, and environmental tracers a better apprehension of the complex interactions between GW-SW can be gained. Although farther survey is needed and techniques can be improved upon, it is through a better understand of the hydrological rhythm and its complex interactions that more appropriate direction programs can be made to guarantee the resource is available to all in the hereafter.

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