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Dissecting the variable source area concept - Subsurface flow pathways and water mixing processes in a hillslope
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
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2012 (English)In: Journal of Hydrology, ISSN 0022-1694, E-ISSN 1879-2707, Vol. 420, 125-141 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study uses an instrumented (trenched) 0.5 ha hillslope in the southern tier of New York State, USA, to provide new data and insights on how variable source areas and associated flow pathways form and combine to connect rainfall with downstream water flows across a hillslope. Measurements of water fluxes in the trench, upslope water table dynamics, surface and bedrock topography, and isotopic and geochemical tracers have been combined for a four-dimensional (space-time) characterization of subsurface storm flow responses. During events with dry antecedent conditions infiltrating rainwater was found to percolate through a prevailing fragipan layer to deeper soil layers, with much (33-71%) of the total discharge of the hillslope originating from deeper water flow below the fragipan. During storm events with wet antecedent conditions and large rainfall amounts, shallow lateral flow of event and pre-event water above the fragipan occurred and was one magnitude greater than the deeper water flow contribution. Spatial surface and subsurface water quality observations indicate that water from a distance of up to 56 m contributed runoff from the hillslope during storm events. In addition, mobilization of total dissolved phosphorus (TDP) with subsurface flow played a greater role than with overland or near-surface flow. During all events TDP loads were highest in the total discharge during peak flows (8-11.5 kg ha(-1) d(-1)), except during the largest storm event, when TDP concentrations were highly diluted. These results have implications for strategies to protect streams and other downstream water recipients from waterborne nutrient and pollutant loading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 420, 125-141 p.
Keyword [en]
Runoff, Subsurface storm flow, Variable source areas, Trenched hillslope studies, Hydrograph separation, Saturation excess
National Category
Geology Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-76990DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.11.052ISI: 000301082000011OAI: diva2:530297
6Available from: 2012-06-01 Created: 2012-05-28 Last updated: 2012-06-01Bibliographically approved

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Dahlke, Helen E.Lyon, Steve W.Destouni, Georgia
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