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Investigating Groundwater Discharge into a Major River under Low Flow Conditions Based on a Radon Mass Balance Supported by Tritium Data

Title data

Schubert, Michael ; Siebert, Christian ; Knoeller, Kay ; Roediger, Tino ; Schmidt, Axel ; Gilfedder, Benjamin Silas:
Investigating Groundwater Discharge into a Major River under Low Flow Conditions Based on a Radon Mass Balance Supported by Tritium Data.
In: Water. Vol. 12 (2020) Issue 10 . - 20 S..
ISSN 2073-4441
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102838

Abstract in another language

The potentially detrimental impact of groundwater discharge into rivers on the ecosystem services provided by the river makes the localization of groundwater discharge areas as well as the quantification of the associated mass fluxes an issue of major interest. However, localizing groundwater discharge zones and evaluating their impact are challenging tasks because of (i) the limited number of suitable tracers and (ii) the high spatio-temporal variability of groundwater/river water interaction in general. In this study, we applied the ubiquitous naturally occurring radioactive noble gas radon (²²²Rn) as an aqueous tracer to localize and quantify groundwater discharge along a 60 km reach of the upper German part of the major river Elbe under drought conditions. All radon data processing was executed with the numerical implicit finite element model FINIFLUX, a radon mass balance-based approach, which has been developed specifically to quantify the groundwater flux into rivers. The model results were compared to the tritium (3H) distribution pattern in the studied river reach. The results of the study proved the applicability of both (i) the methodical approach (i.e., radon as tracer) and (ii) the application of FINIFLUX to drought conditions (with river discharge rates as low as 82 m3/s vs. a long time mean of 300 m3/s). Applying the model, the recorded dataset allowed differentiating between groundwater baseflow, on the one hand, and interflow and surface water runoff distributions to the river, on the other. Furthermore, the model results allowed assessing the location and the intensity of groundwater discharge into the river under low flow conditions. It was also shown that analysing discrete river water samples taken from distinct points in a major stream might lead to slightly incorrect results because of an incomplete mixing of river water and locally discharging groundwater. An integrating sampling approach (as applied for radon) is preferable here.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Hydrology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Hydrology > Chair Hydrology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Stefan Peiffer
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 550 Earth sciences, geology
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 10:15
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2020 09:17
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/58378