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Preferential flow between rivers and aquifers in alluvial floodplains

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Created: Aug 25, 2021 at 9:58 p.m.
Last updated: Jan 13, 2023 at 2:09 p.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.f93624835f5145c2b597c9944aca9357
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Sharing Status: Published
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Preferential flow between rivers and aquifers in alluvial floodplains may be a core component of shallow groundwater transport and, consequently, its understand- ing is key to modelling and managing groundwater resources. At a clay wedge separating present-day streamflow and bank storage from an adjacent shallow aquifer, we image a suspected sand-dominated structure. This structure cuts through the clay wedge and possesses temporally dynamic electrical resistivity as seen in time-lapse electrical resistivity tomographic (ERT) images collected over a 61-day study period. During days 11–12, following heavy rainstorms, the cross section of the electrically resistive sand fades into the background resistivity structure, reappearing the following day. This research shows that preferential flow can be imaged in time-lapse ERT in buried sand-dominated structures between a floodplain and the adjacent river. Our analysis demon- strates that sand conduits can transport infiltrated rainwater from the floodplain into the river as a bank spring and, hypothetically, at high-stage streamflow, from the river into the adjacent shallow aquifer. In both directions, these conduits for preferential flow exert an important control on the regulation and distribution of water, sediments and contaminants. This phenomenon will help hydrological models to incorporate more real-world phenomena and ultimately better prepare groundwater managers to sustainably steward shallow groundwater resources.

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Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Texas A&M University Research Farm


Start Date:
End Date:


Related Resources

The content of this resource is derived from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The content of this resource is derived from United States Geological Survey


Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
United States Geological Survey 104B State Water Resources Research Institute Program 06-505264-01007-M1903160

How to Cite

Martin, J. M. (2023). Preferential flow between rivers and aquifers in alluvial floodplains, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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