Main content area

Groundwater discharge along a channelized Coastal Plain stream

LaSage, Danita M., Sexton, Joshua L., Mukherjee, Abhijit, Fryar, Alan E., Greb, Stephen F.
Journal of hydrology 2008 v.360 no.1-4 pp. 252-264
streams, groundwater flow, stream channels, hydrology, hydrogeology, stream flow, springs (water), seasonal variation, Kentucky
In the Coastal Plain of the southeastern USA, streams have commonly been artificially channelized for flood control and agricultural drainage. However, groundwater discharge along such streams has received relatively little attention. Using a combination of stream- and spring-flow measurements, spring temperature measurements, temperature profiling along the stream-bed, and geologic mapping, we delineated zones of diffuse and focused discharge along Little Bayou Creek, a channelized, first-order perennial stream in western Kentucky. Seasonal variability in groundwater discharge mimics hydraulic-head fluctuations in a nearby monitoring well and spring-discharge fluctuations elsewhere in the region, and is likely to reflect seasonal variability in recharge. Diffuse discharge occurs where the stream is incised into the semi-confined regional gravel aquifer, which is comprised of the Mounds Gravel. Focused discharge occurs upstream where the channel appears to have intersected preferential pathways within the confining unit. Seasonal fluctuations in discharge from individual springs are repressed where piping results in bank collapse. Thereby, focused discharge can contribute to the morphological evolution of the stream channel.