• Analysis of Borehole Infiltration Tests Above the Water Table

      Stephens, Daniel Bruce; Neuman, Shlomo P. (Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1980-03)
      Constant head borehole infiltration tests are widely used for the in situ evaluation of saturated hydraulic conductivities of unsaturated soils above the water table. The formulae employed in analyzing the results of such tests disregard the fact that some of the infiltrating water may flow under unsaturated conditions. Instead, these formulae are based on various approximations of the classical free surface theory which treats the flow region as if it were fully saturated and enclosed within a distinct envelope, the so- called "free surface." A finite element model capable of solving free surface problems is used to examine the mathematical accuracy of the borehole infiltration formulae. The results show that in the hypothetical case where unsaturated flow does not exist, the approximate formulae are reasonably accurate within a practical range of borehole conditions. To see what happens under conditions closer to those actually encountered in the field, the effect of unsaturated flow on borehole infiltration is investigated by means of two different numerical models: A mixed explicit - implicit finite element model, and a mixed explicit -implicit integrated finite difference model. Both of these models give nearly identical results; however, the integrated finite difference model is considerably faster than the finite element model. The relatively low computational efficiency of the finite element scheme is attributed to the large humber of operations required in order to reevaluate the conductivity (stiffness) matrix at each iteration in this highly nonlinear saturated -unsaturated flow problem. The saturated -unsaturated analysis demonstrates that the classical free surface approach provides a distorted picture of the flow pattern in the soil. Contrary to what one would expect on the basis of this theory, only a finite region of the soil in the immediate vicinity of the borehole is saturated, whereas a significant percentage of the flow takes place under unsaturated conditions. As a consequence of disregarding unsaturated flow, the available formulae may underestimate the saturated hydraulic conductivity of fine grained soils by a factor of two, three, or more. Our saturated -unsaturated analysis leads to an improved design of borehole infiltration tests and a more accurate method for interpreting the results of such tests. The analysis also shows how one can predict the steady state rate of infiltration as well as the saturated hydraulic conductivity from data collected during the early transient period of the test.
    • An analysis of the effects of retiring irrigation pumpage in the San Pedro riparian national conservation area, Cochise county, Arizona

      Sharma, Vandana; Nish, Robert D. Mac; Maddock, Thomas, III; Department of Hydrology & Water Resources, The University of Arizona; Arizona Research Laboratory for Riparian Studies (Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2000)
      A seasonal groundwater model was developed to simulate fluxes and head distributions with periodic boundary conditions within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) in southeastern Arizona. This model incorporated a seasonal approach for the period 1940-1995. Two years were used to simulate streamflow, 1990 and 1995. The model, as currently calibrated, does not accurately reproduce observed baseflow conditions in the San Pedro River and simulates an exaggerated effect of retiring irrigation within the SPRNCA. The model simulated increased baseflows while the observed baseflows declined at the USGS Charleston stream gage, though increases in baseflow contributions between Hereford Bridge and Lewis Springs have been reported. The original (Corell, et al., 1996) model and the seasonal transient model suffer from over- estimation of discharge from the floodplain aquifer to the San Pedro river, as well as errors in the seasonal transient model's simulation of riparian ET, and seasonal variations in stream conductance. These problems precluded the seasonal transient model from replicating the observed baseflows in the San Pedro river at the Charleston bridge, however, the results of the simulation are thought to be qualitatively indicative of changes in the flow system resulting from the retirement of irrigated agriculture in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Possible sources for this problem include replacement of irrigation stresses by the expansion of cones of depression more distant from the river, overestimation of mountain front recharge, poor baseflow estimates and evapotransipration calculations from the stream gages at Charleston and Palominas, and the effects of a recently discovered silt -clay body that may dampen the speed of the rivers response to changes in stress. Additional efforts to re- calibrate the model, taking these areas into account, should provide better simulated baseflow values of the observed data.