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Quantifying macropore recharge: Examples from a semi-arid area

Ground Water

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the significantly increased resolution of determining macropore recharge by combining physical, chemical, and isotopic methods of analysis. Techniques for quantifying macropore recharge were developed for both small-scale (1 to 10 km2) and regional-scale areas in and semi-arid areas. The Southern High Plains region of Texas and New Mexico was used as a representative field site to test these methods. Macropore recharge in small-scale areas is considered to be the difference between total recharge through floors of topographically dosed basins and interstitial recharge through the same area. On the regional scale, macropore recharge was considered to be the difference between regional average annual recharge and interstitial recharge measured in the unsaturated zone. Stable isotopic composition of ground water and precipitation was used us an independent estimate of macropore recharge on the regional scale. Results of this analysis suggest that in the Southern High Plains recharge flux through macropores is between 60 and 80 percent of the total 11 mm/y. Between 15 and 35 percent of the recharge occurs by interstitial recharge through the basin floors. Approximately 5 percent of the total recharge occurs as either interstitial or matrix recharge between the basin floors, representing approximately 95 percent of the area. The approach is applicable to other arid and semi-arid areas that focus rainfall into depressions or valleys.The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the significantly increased resolution of determining macropore recharge by combining physical, chemical, and isotopic methods of analysis. Techniques for quantifying macropore recharge were developed for both small-scale (1 to 10 km2) and regional-scale areas in arid and semi-arid areas. The Southern High Plains region of Texas and New Mexico was used as a representative field site to test these methods. Macropore recharge in small-scale areas is considered to be the difference between total recharge through floors of topographically closed basins and interstitial recharge through the same area. On the regional scale, macropore recharge was considered to be the difference between regional average annual recharge and interstitial recharge measured in the unsaturated zone. Stable isotopic composition of ground water and precipitation was used as an independent estimate of macropore recharge on the regional scale. Results of this analysis suggest that in the Southern High Plains recharge flux through macropores is between 60 and 80 percent of the total 11 mm/y. Between 15 and 35 percent of the recharge occurs by interstitial recharge through the basin floors. Approximately 5 percent of the total recharge occurs as either interstitial or matrix recharge between the basin floors, representing approximately 95 percent of the area. The approach is applicable to other arid and semi-arid areas that focus rainfall into depressions or valleys.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Quantifying macropore recharge: Examples from a semi-arid area
Series title:
Ground Water
Volume
35
Issue:
6
Year Published:
1997
Language:
English
Publisher:
Ground Water Publ Co
Publisher location:
Westerville, OH, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Ground Water
First page:
1097
Last page:
1105