New paper by Gannon on organizing groundwater regimes and response thresholds by soils

JP Gannon had a paper accepted this week in Water Resources Research titled “Organizing groundwater regimes and response thresholds by soils: A framework for understanding runoff generation in a headwater catchment.”

Here’s the abstract: A network of shallow groundwater wells in a headwater catchment at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, USA was used to investigate the hydrologic behavior of five distinct soil morphological units. The soil morphological units were hypothesized to be indicative of distinct water table regimes. Water table fluctuations in the wells were characterized by their median and interquartile range of depth, proportion of time water table was present in the solum, and storage-discharge behavior of subsurface flow. Statistically significant differences in median, interquartile range, and presence of water table were detected among soil units. Threshold responses were identified in storage-discharge relationships of subsurface flow, with thresholds varying among soil units. These results suggest that soil horizonation is indicative of distinct groundwater flow regimes. The spatial distribution of water table across the catchment showed variably connected/disconnected active areas of runoff generation in the solum. The spatial distribution of water table and therefore areas contributing to stormflow is complex and changes depending on catchment storage.

Key points:

  • Soil horizonation is indicative of distinct water table fluctuations
  • Threshold storage-discharge relationships vary among hydropedological soil units
  • Spatial patterns of runoff generation are linked to soil horizonation and thresholds in catchment storage

Dr. Kevin McGuire is an associate professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and the associate director for the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.

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