Salt and water flux in an arid zone intermittent river: The role of the floodplain environment
AuthorIrvine, EC; Costelloe, JF; Western, AW; Hayes, S
Source Title30th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium
PublisherConference Organising Committee
Document TypeConference Paper
CitationsIrvine, E. C., Costelloe, J. F., Western, A. W. & Hayes, S. (2006). Salt and water flux in an arid zone intermittent river: The role of the floodplain environment. 30th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, 1, (1), pp.1-6. Conference Organising Committee.
Access StatusOpen Access
Exchange between the surface water and local groundwater systems in intermittent rivers is not well understood, however the ecological functioning of these riverine environments can be dependent on the degree of interaction between the two domains. Spatial and temporal changes in the isotopic (δ18O/δ2H) and major ion composition of the floodplain aquifers in the lower reaches of the intermittent Diamantina River, South Australia, along with hydrologic data and sedimentary analysis, are used to identify localized groundwater recharge following flow events. The approximately synchronous response of groundwater levels to surface water events over two years (encompassing the recession of one major flood involving substantial floodplain inundation and two smaller events) particularly in near channel locations, indicates connectivity between surface water and local groundwater systems. The increase in δ18O/δ2H values and decrease in the salinity of groundwater <100m from the river subsequent to major flooding indicates event recharge of the shallow alluvial aquifers. Over time, groundwater compositions return to more saline and isotopically depleted values, considered here to be base conditions. Groundwater salinity and isotopic compositions of the mid and outer floodplains varied little over the course of the study period despite flood inundation and change in groundwater head. Sedimentary analysis of the predominantly silt and clay floodplain surface indicates the potential of these soils to develop seals and thus limit infiltration of flood waters. Thus event recharge was limited to near bank areas or zones of preferential infiltration over the course of the study period. CFC dating and isotopic data give some indication that sustained recharge to the floodplain groundwater system occurs during successive large flood events or wet years.
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