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Estimating and forecasting time-varying groundwater recharge in fractured rock: A state-space formulation with preferential and diffuse flow to the water table

September 9, 2021

Rapid infiltration following precipitation may result in groundwater contamination from surface contaminants or pathogens. In fractured rock, contaminants can migrate rapidly to points of groundwater withdrawals. In contrast to the temporal availability of groundwater quality chemical indicators, meteorological and groundwater level observations are available in real-time to estimate time-varying recharge, which can act as a surrogate to identify periods of rapid infiltration that may indicate contamination susceptibility. Estimating recharge using methods, such as base-flow recession, unsaturated infiltration models, or Water-Table Fluctuations (WTF), cannot capitalize on currently available technologies and telecommunication infrastructure to conduct real-time recharge estimation at scales relevant to characterizing rapid infiltration. We present a linear, physics-based State-Space (SS) model of one-dimensional infiltration to estimate recharge, which includes preferential and diffuse-flow to the water table. The model can take advantage of real-time data for water-table altitude, precipitation, and evapotranspiration. Model parameters are calibrated over an observation period, and the Kalman Filter (KF) is subsequently applied to continuously update the observed (water-table altitude) and unobserved (groundwater recharge) system states and predict future states as new data become available. The SS/KF algorithm is demonstrated at the Masser Groundwater Recharge Site in Pennsylvania, USA and comparisons are made with recharge estimates from WTF methods. Model results indicate that the frequency of observations (daily versus sub-daily) dictates the allocation between preferential and diffuse flow. Additionally, because infiltration processes encompass many nonlinearities, model parameters estimated from observation periods need to be updated at least seasonally to account for changing recharge conditions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Estimating and forecasting time-varying groundwater recharge in fractured rock: A state-space formulation with preferential and diffuse flow to the water table
DOI 10.1029/2020WR029110
Authors Allen M. Shapiro, Frederick Day-Lewis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Resources Research
Index ID 70223914
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division

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