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Interpreting temporal variations in river response functions: an example from the Arkansas River, Kansas, USA

Brookfield, A. E., Stotler, R. L., Reboulet, E. C.
Hydrogeology journal 2017 v.25 no.5 pp. 1271-1282
aquifers, hydrograph, models, rivers, stable isotopes, surface water, temporal variation, water quality, Arkansas River, Kansas
Groundwater/surface-water interactions can play an important role in management of water quality and quantity, but the temporal and spatial variability of these interactions makes them difficult to incorporate into conceptual models. There are simple methods for identifying the presence of groundwater/surface-water interactions; however, identifying flow mechanisms and pathways can be challenging. More complex methods are available to better identify these mechanisms and pathways but are often too time consuming or costly. In this work, a simple method for interpreting and identifying flow mechanisms and sources using temporal variations of river response functions is presented. This approach is demonstrated using observations from two sites along the Arkansas River in Kansas, USA. A change in flow mechanisms between the rising and falling limbs of river hydrographs was identified, along with a second surface-water source to the aquifer, a finding that was validated with stable isotope analyses.