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The significance of turbulent flow representation in single-continuum models

January 1, 2011

Karst aquifers exhibit highly conductive features caused from rock dissolution processes. Flow within these structures can become turbulent and therefore can be expressed by nonlinear gradient functions. One way to account for these effects is by coupling a continuum model with a conduit network. Alternatively, turbulent flow can be considered by adapting the hydraulic conductivity within the continuum model. Consequently, the significance of turbulent flow on the dynamic behavior of karst springs is investigated by an enhanced single-continuum model that results in conduit-type flow in continuum cells (CTFC). The single-continuum approach CTFC represents laminar and turbulent flow as well as more complex hybrid models that require additional programming and numerical efforts. A parameter study is conducted to investigate the effects of turbulent flow on the response of karst springs to recharge events using the new CTFC approach, existing hybrid models, and MODFLOW-2005. Results reflect the importance of representing (1) turbulent flow in karst conduits and (2) the exchange between conduits and continuum cells. More specifically, laminar models overestimate maximum spring discharge and underestimate hydraulic gradients within the conduit. It follows that aquifer properties inferred from spring hydrographs are potentially impaired by ignoring flow effects due to turbulence. The exchange factor used for hybrid models is necessary to account for the scale dependency between hydraulic properties of the matrix continuum and conduits. This functionality, which is not included in CTFC, can be mimicked by appropriate use of the Horizontal Flow Barrier package for MODFLOW. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Publication Year 2011
Title The significance of turbulent flow representation in single-continuum models
DOI 10.1029/2010WR010133
Authors Thomas Reimann, C. Rehrl, W.B. Shoemaker, T. Geyer, S. Birk
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Resources Research
Index ID 70036352
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse