Vertical and horizontal water fluxes in the unsaturated zone near intermittent streams critically affect ecosystems, water supply, and contaminant transport in arid and semiarid regions. The subsurface near the Oro Grande Wash is typical in having great textural diversity, pronounced layer contrasts, and extremely low hydraulic conductivities associated with nearly dry media. These features prevent a straightforward application of the Darcian method for recharge estimation, which has provided high-quality flux estimates at simpler, wetter sites. We have augmented the basic Darcian method with theoretical developments such that a small number of core sample unsaturated hydraulic property measurements, combined with additional, easily obtained data (e.g., drillers' logs) can provide useful flux estimates and knowledge of two-dimensional water behavior beneath the wash.
Additional publication details
Evaluation of unsaturated zone water fluxes in heterogeneous alluvium at a Mojave Basin site