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Identifying turbulent flow in carbonate aquifers

Worthington, Stephen R.H., Soley, Robert W.N.
Journal of hydrology 2017 v.552 pp. 70-80
aquifers, groundwater, laminar flow, permeability, probability, springs (water), turbulent flow
Turbulent flow has a different hydraulic response compared to laminar flow and so it is important to be able to identify its occurrence in an aquifer, and to predict where it is likely to be found. Turbulent flow is associated with large apertures and rapid velocities, and these occur most frequently in carbonate aquifers. Methods for identifying turbulent flow include correlating spring discharge with head variation, calculating Reynolds numbers from spring discharge and tracer velocity, and plotting the spatial variation of head differences between high flow and low flow. The probability of turbulent flow increases as a function of permeability and of spring discharge, and the probability increases in a downgradient direction in an aquifer. Spring discharge is a key parameter for evaluating the presence of turbulent flow, which is likely to occur where a spring with a discharge>1L/s is fed by a single channel. Turbulent flow appears to be a major contributing factor to the occurrence of groundwater flooding in carbonate aquifers.