thumbnail

Riparian zone flowpath dynamics during snowmelt in a small headwater catchment

Journal of Hydrology

By:
, , , and
DOI: 10.1016/S0022-1694(99)00102-X

Links

Abstract

The hydrology of the near-stream riparian zone in upland humid catchments is poorly understood. We examined the spatial and temporal aspects of riparian flowpaths during snowmelt in a headwater catchment within the Sleepers River catchment in northern Vermont. A transect of 15 piezometers was sampled for Ca, Si, DOC, other major cations, and ??18O. Daily piezometric head values reflected variations in the stream hydrograph induced by melt and rainfall. The riparian zone exhibited strong upward discharge gradients. An impeding layer was identified between the till and surficial organic soil. Water solute concentrations increased toward the stream throughout the melt. Ca concentrations increased with depth and DOC concentrations decreased with depth. The concentrations of Ca in all piezometers were lower during active snowmelt than during post-melt low flow. Ca data suggest snowmelt infiltration to depth; however, only upslope piezometers exhibited snowmelt infiltration and consequent low ??18O values, while ??18O values varied less than 0.5% in the deep riparian piezometers throughout the study period. Ca and ??18O values in upslope piezometers during low streamflow were comparable to Ca and ??18O in riparian piezometers during high streamflow. The upland water Ca and ??18O may explain the deep riparian Ca dilution and consistent ??18O composition. The temporal pattern in Ca and ??18O indicate that upland water moves to the stream via a lateral displacement mechanism that is enhanced by the presence of distinct soil/textural layers. Snowmelt thus initiates the flux of pre-melt, low Ca upland water to depth in the riparian zone, but itself does not appear at depth in the riparian zone during spring melt. This is despite the coincident response of upland groundwater and stream discharge.The hydrology of the near-stream riparian zone in upland humid catchments is poorly understood. We examined the spatial and temporal aspects of riparian flowpaths during snowmelt in a headwater catchment within the Sleepers River catchment in northern Vermont. A transect of 15 piezometers was sampled for Ca, Si, DOC, other major cations, and ??18O. Daily piezometric head values reflected variations in the stream hydrograph induced by melt and rainfall. The riparian zone exhibited strong upward discharge gradients. An impeding layer was identified between the till and surficial organic soil. Water solute concentrations increased toward the stream throughout the melt. Ca concentrations increased with depth and DOC concentrations decreased with depth. The concentrations of Ca in all piezometers were lower during active snowmelt than during post-melt low flow. Ca data suggest snowmelt infiltration to depth; however, only upslope piezometers exhibited snowmelt infiltration and consequent low ??18O values, while ??18O values varied less than 0.5 per mil in the deep riparian piezometers throughout the study period. Ca and ??18O values in upslope piezometers during low streamflow were comparable to Ca and ??18O in riparian piezometers during high streamflow. The upland water Ca and ??18O may explain the deep riparian Ca dilution and consistent ??18O composition. The temporal pattern in Ca and ??18O indicate that upland water moves to the stream via a lateral displacement mechanism that is enhanced by the presence of distinct soil/textural layers. Snowmelt thus initiates the flux of pre-melt, low Ca upland water to depth in the riparian zone, but itself does not appear at depth in the riparian zone during spring melt. This is despite the coincident response of upland groundwater and stream discharge.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Riparian zone flowpath dynamics during snowmelt in a small headwater catchment
Series title:
Journal of Hydrology
DOI:
10.1016/S0022-1694(99)00102-X
Volume
222
Issue:
1-4
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier Science B.V.
Publisher location:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Hydrology
First page:
75
Last page:
92
Number of Pages:
18