This report focuses on measuring the flow of water across the interface between surface water and ground water, rather than the hydrogeological or geochemical processes that occur at or near this interface. The methods, however, that use hydrogeological and geochemical evidence to quantify water fluxes are described herein. This material is presented as a guide for those who have to examine the interaction of surface water and ground water. The intent here is that both the overview of the many available methods and the in-depth presentation of specific methods will enable the reader to choose those study approaches that will best meet the requirements of the environments and processes they are investigating, as well as to recognize the merits of using more than one approach.
This report is designed to make the reader aware of the breadth of approaches available for the study of the exchange between surface and ground water. To accomplish this, the report is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 describes many well-documented approaches for defining the flow between surface and ground waters. Subsequent chapters provide an in-depth presentation of particular methods. Chapter 2 focuses on three of the most commonly used methods to either calculate or directly measure flow of water between surface-water bodies and the ground-water domain: (1) measurement of water levels in well networks in combination with measurement of water level in nearby surface water to determine water-level gradients and flow; (2) use of portable piezometers (wells) or hydraulic potentiomanometers to measure hydraulic gradients; and (3) use of seepage meters to measure flow directly. Chapter 3 focuses on describing the techniques involved in conducting water-tracer tests using fluorescent dyes, a method commonly used in the hydrogeologic investigation and characterization of karst aquifers, and in the study of water fluxes in karst terranes. Chapter 4 focuses on heat as a tracer in hydrological investigations of the near-surface environment.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Field Techniques for Estimating Water Fluxes Between Surface Water and Ground Water