Transient, perched water tables in the shallow subsurface are observed at the South Fork Brokenback Run catchment in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Crest piezometers installed along a hillslope transect show that the development of saturated conditions in the upper 1.5 m of the subsurface is controlled by total precipitation and antecedent conditions, not precipitation intensity, although soil heterogeneities strongly influence local response. The macroporous subsurface storm flow zone provides a hydrological pathway for rapid runoff generation apart from the underlying groundwater zone, a conceptualization supported by the two-storage system exhibited by hydrograph recession analysis. A modified version of TOPMODEL is used to simulate the observed catchment dynamics. In this model, generalized topographic index theory is applied to the subsurface storm flow zone to account for logarithmic storm flow recessions, indicative of linearly decreasing transmissivity with depth. Vertical drainage to the groundwater zone is required, and both subsurface reservoirs are considered to contribute to surface saturation.
Additional publication details
Shallow subsurface storm flow in a forested headwater catchment: Observations and modeling using a modified TOPMODEL