To classify recharge potential (RCP) in ephemeral-stream channels, a method was developed that incorporates information about channel geometry, vegetation characteristics, and bed-sediment apparent electrical conductivity (??a). Recharge potential is not independently measurable, but is instead formulated as a site-specific, qualitative parameter. We used data from 259 transects across two ephemeral-stream channels near Sierra Vista, Arizona, a location with a semiarid climate. Seven data types were collected: ??a averaged over two depth intervals (0-3 m, and 0-6 m), channel incision depth and width, diameter-at-breast-height of the largest tree, woody-plant and grass density. A two-tiered system was used to classify a transect's RCP. In the first tier, transects were categorized by estimates of near-surface-sediment hydraulic permeability as low, moderate, or high using measurements of 0-3 m-depth ??a. Each of these categories was subdivided into low, medium, or high RCP classes using the remaining six data types, thus yielding a total of nine RCP designations. Six sites in the study area were used to compare RCP and ??a with previously measured surrogates for hydraulic permeability. Borehole-averaged percent fines showed a moderate correlation with both shallow and deep ??a measurements, however, correlation of point measurements of saturated hydraulic conductivity, percent fines, and cylinder infiltrometer measurements with ??a and RCP was generally poor. The poor correlation was probably caused by the relatively large measurement volume and spatial averaging of ??a compared with the spatially-limited point measurements. Because of the comparatively large spatial extent of measurement transects and variety of data types collected, RCP estimates can give a more complete picture of the major factors affecting recharge at a site than is possible through point or borehole-averaged estimates of hydraulic permeability alone. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Rapid estimation of recharge potential in ephemeral-stream channels using electromagnetic methods, and measurements of channel and vegetation characteristics