An Analytical Study on Periodically Changing Flow Cells in Groundwater Basins

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Xiaowei Jiang, Ke-Yu Zhao, Jun-Zhi Wang, Li Wan and Hneg Wang, China University of Geosciences(Beijing), Beijing, China
Current understanding on basin-scale groundwater flow is mainly based on Tóth’s (1962, 1963) pioneering study, which assumed that water table is a subdued replica of topography and the annual mean water table controls the pattern of groundwater flow. In fact, water table is driven by dynamic forcing and changes with time. This study modifies the conceptual model of basin-scale groundwater flow by taking the fluctuating water-table into account. For both unit basin and complex basin, water table fluctuates throughout the basin cross-section except for at basin valleys. By the method of separation of variables, we derive the analytical solution of hydraulics head and stream function in the unit basin and the complex basin, and discuss the characteristics of the time-dependent flow cells. For the unit basin, the change in amplitude of hydraulic head fluctuation with depth is studied. For the complex basin, the time-dependent distribution of internal stagnation points is discussed. In addition, the relationship between flowing artesian zone and the fluctuating water-table is discussed. The results of the current study enhance our understanding on the transient nature of basin-scale groundwater flow.