Analytical and numerical analyses of an unconfined aquifer test considering unsaturated zone characteristics

Water Resources Research




A 7-d, constant rate aquifer test conducted by University of Waterloo researchers at Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario, Canada, is useful for advancing understanding of fluid flow processes in response to pumping from an unconfined aquifer. Measured data include not only drawdown in the saturated zone but also volumetric soil moisture measured at various times and distances from the pumped well. Analytical analyses were conducted with the model published in 2001 by Moench and colleagues, which allows for gradual drainage but does not include unsaturated zone characteristics, and the model published in 2006 by Mathias and Butler, which assumes that moisture retention and relative hydraulic conductivity (RHC) in the unsaturated zone are exponential functions of pressure head. Parameters estimated with either model yield good matches between measured and simulated drawdowns in piezometers. Numerical analyses were conducted with two versions of VS2DT: one that uses traditional Brooks and Corey functional relations and one that uses a RHC function introduced in 2001 by Assouline that includes an additional parameter that accounts for soil structure and texture. The analytical model of Mathias and Butler and numerical model of VS2DT with the Assouline model both show that the RHC function must contain a fitting parameter that is different from that used in the moisture retention function. Results show the influence of field-scale heterogeneity and suggest that the RHC at the Borden site declines more rapidly with elevation above the top of the capillary fringe than would be expected if the parameters were to reflect local- or core-scale soil structure and texture.

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Analytical and numerical analyses of an unconfined aquifer test considering unsaturated zone characteristics
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Water Resources Research
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Water Resources Research