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AGU: Water Resources Research



  • ecohydrology
  • hydrogeophysics
  • hyporheic
  • solute transport

Index Terms

  • 1830 - Groundwater/surface water interaction
  • 1832 - Groundwater transport
  • 1835 - Hydrogeophysics
  • 1871 - Surface water quality

Paper in Press

WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, doi:10.1029/2011WR011461

Hydrologic and geomorphic controls on hyporheic exchange during baseflow recession in a headwater mountain stream

Key Points
  • No evidence of hydraulic gradients constricting hyporheic zones in steep valleys
  • Hyporheic response to changing hydraulic gradients varies with valley constraint
  • Hydrogeophysical methods characterize hyporheic spatial and temporal dynamics


Adam Scott Ward

Michael Fitzgerald

Michael N. Gooseff

Thomas J. Voltz

Andrew Binley

Kamini Singha

Hyporheic hydrodynamics are a control on stream ecosystems, yet we lack a thorough understanding of catchment controls on these flowpaths, including valley constraint and hydraulic gradients in the valley bottom. We performed four whole-stream solute tracer injections under steady-state flow conditions at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (Oregon, U.S.A.) and collected electrical resistivity (ER) imaging to directly quantify the 2-D spatial extent of hyporheic exchange through seasonal baseflow recession. ER images provide spatially distributed information that is unavailable for stream solute transport modeling studies from monitoring wells alone. Lateral and vertical extent of the hyporheic zone was quantified using both ER images and spatial moment analysis. Results oppose the common conceptual model of hyporheic "compression" by increased lateral hydraulic gradients toward the stream. We found that the extent of the hyporheic zone increased with decreasing vertical gradients away from the stream, in contrast to expectations from conceptual models. Increasing hyporheic extent was observed with both increasing and decreasing down-valley (i.e., parallel to the valley gradient) and cross-valley (i.e., from the hillslope to the stream, perpendicular to the valley gradient) hydraulic gradients. We conclude that neither cross-valley nor down-valley hydraulic gradients are sufficient predictors of hyporheic exchange flux nor flowpath network extent. Increased knowledge of the controls on hyporheic exchange, the temporal dynamics of exchange flowpaths, and their the spatial distribution is the first step toward predicting hyporheic exchange at the scale of individual flowpaths. Future studies need to more carefully consider interactions between spatiotemporally dynamic hydraulic gradients and subsurface architecture as controls on hyporheic exchange

Received 29 September 2011; accepted 4 March 2012.

Citation: Ward, A. S., M. Fitzgerald, M. N. Gooseff, T. J. Voltz, A. Binley, and K. Singha (2012), Hydrologic and geomorphic controls on hyporheic exchange during baseflow recession in a headwater mountain stream, Water Resour. Res., doi:10.1029/2011WR011461, in press.