Low-permeability sediments situated at or near the sediment-water interface can influence seepage in nearshore margins, particularly where wave energy or currents are minimal. Seepage meters were used to quantify flow across the sediment-water interface at two lakes where flow was from surface water to groundwater. Disturbance of the sediment bed substantially increased seepage through the sandy sediments of both lakes. Seepage increased by factors of 2.6 to 7.7 following bed disturbance at seven of eight measurement locations at Mirror Lake, New Hampshire, where the sediment representing the greatest restriction to flow was situated at the sediment-water interface. Although the veneer of low-permeability sediment was very thin and easily disturbed, accumulation on the bed surface was aided by a physical setting that minimized wind-generated waves and current. At Lake Belle Taine, Minnesota, where pre-disturbance downward seepage was smaller than at Mirror Lake, but hydraulic gradients were very large, disturbance of a 20 to 30 cm thick medium sand layer resulted in increases in seepage of 2 to 3 orders of magnitude. Exceptionally large seepage rates, some exceeding 25,000 cm/d, were recorded following bed disturbance. Since it is common practice to walk on the bed while installing or making seepage measurements, disruption of natural seepage rates may be a common occurrence in nearshore seepage studies. Disturbance of the bed should be avoided or minimized when utilizing seepage meters in shallow, nearshore settings, particularly where waves or currents are infrequent or minimal.
Additional publication details
The effect of surficial disturbance on exchange between groundwater and surface water in near-shore margins