In semiarid regions, the contribution of infiltration from intermittent streamflow to ground water recharge may be quantified by comparing simulations of fluid and heat transport beneath stream channels to observed ground temperatures. In addition to quantifying natural recharge, streamflow infiltration estimates provide a means to characterize the physical properties of stream channel sediments and to identify suitable locations for artificial recharge sites. Rates of winter streamflow infiltration along stream channels are estimated based on the cooling effect of infiltrated water on streambed sediments, combined with the simulation of two-dimensional fluid and heat transport using the computer program VS2DH. The cooling effect of ground water is determined by measuring ground temperatures at regular intervals beneath stream channels and nearby channel banks in order to calculate temperature-depth profiles. Additional data inputs included the physical, hydraulic, and thermal properties of unsaturated alluvium, and monthly ground temperatures measurements over an annual cycle. Observed temperatures and simulation results can provide estimates of the minimum threshold for deep infiltration, the variability of infiltration along stream channels, and also the frequency of infiltration events.
Additional publication details
Simulation of fluid, heat transport to estimate desert stream infiltration