• Investigations of stream-aquifer interactions using a coupled surface-water and ground-water flow model

      Vionnet, Leticia Beatriz; Maddock, Thomas, III; Goodrich, David C.; Department of Hydrology & Water Resources, The University of Arizona (Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1997-01)
      A finite element numerical model is developed for the modeling of coupled surface-water flow and ground-water flow. The mathematical treatment of subsurface flows follows the confined aquifer theory or the classical Dupuit approximation for unconfined aquifers whereas surface-water flows are treated with the kinematic wave approximation for open channel flow. A detailed discussion of the standard approaches to represent the coupling term is provided. In this work, a mathematical expression similar to Ohm's law is used to simulate the interacting term between the two major hydrological components. Contrary to the standard approach, the coupling term is incorporated through a boundary flux integral that arises naturally in the weak form of the governing equations rather than through a source term. It is found that in some cases, a branch cut needs to be introduced along the internal boundary representing the stream in order to define a simply connected domain, which is an essential requirement in the derivation of the weak form of the ground-water flow equation. The fast time scale characteristic of surface-water flows and the slow time scale characteristic of ground-water flows are clearly established, leading to the definition of three dimensionless parameters, namely, a Peclet number that inherits the disparity between both time scales, a flow number that relates the pumping rate and the streamflow, and a Biot number that relates the conductance at the river-aquifer interface to the aquifer conductance. The model, implemented in the Bill Williams River Basin, reproduces the observed streamflow patterns and the ground-water flow patterns. Fairly good results are obtained using multiple time steps in the simulation process.