Effects of Turbulent Hyporheic Mixing on Reach-Scale Transport

K. R. Roche*, A. Li, D. Bolster, G. J. Wagner, A. I. Packman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Turbulence causes rapid mixing of solutes and fine particles between open channel flow and coarse-grained streambeds. Turbulent mixing is known to control hyporheic exchange fluxes and the distribution of vertical mixing rates in the streambed, but it is unclear how turbulent mixing ultimately influences mass transport at the reach scale. We used a particle-tracking model to simulate local- and reach-scale solute transport for a stream with coarse-grained sediments. Simulations were first used to determine profiles of vertical mixing rates that best described solute concentration profiles measured within a coarse granular bed in flume experiments. These vertical mixing profiles were then used to simulate a pulse solute injection to show the effects of turbulent hyporheic exchange on reach-scale solute transport. Experimentally measured concentrations were best described by simulations with a nonmonotonic mixing profile, with highest mixing at the sediment–water interface and exponential decay into the bed. Reach-scale simulations show that this enhanced interfacial mixing couples in-stream and hyporheic solute transport. Coupling produces an interval of exponential decay in breakthrough curves and delays the onset of power law tailing. High streamwise velocities in the hyporheic zone reduce mass recovery in the water column and cause breakthrough curves to exhibit steeper power law slopes than predictions from mobile-immobile modeling theory. These results demonstrate that transport models must consider the spatial variability of streamwise velocity and vertical mixing for both the stream and the hyporheic zone, and new analytical theory is needed to describe reach-scale transport when high streamwise velocities are present in the hyporheic zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3780-3795
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • CTRW, solute
  • hyporheic exchange
  • stream
  • transport
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Turbulent Hyporheic Mixing on Reach-Scale Transport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this