Surface-subsurface exchange fluxes are receiving increasing interest because of their importance in the fate of contaminants, nutrients, and other ecologically relevant substances in a variety of aquatic systems. Solutions have previously been developed for pore water flows induced by geometrical irregularities such as bed forms for the cases of homogeneous sediment beds and idealized heterogeneous beds, but these solutions have not accounted for the fact that streambed sediments are subject to sorting processes that often produce well-defined subsurface structures. Sediments at the streambed surface are often coarser than the underlying material because of size-selective sediment transport, producing relatively thin armor layers. Episodic erosional and depositional processes also create thick layers of different composition within the porous medium, forming stratified beds. A series of experiments were conducted to observe conservative solute transport in armored and stratified beds. An analytical solution was developed for advective exchange with stratified beds and provides appropriate scaling of the physical variables that control exchange flows. The results show that armor layers are too thin to significantly alter the advective pumping process but provide significant solute storage at short time scales. Stratified beds with layers of significant thickness favor development of horizontal flow paths within the bed and change the rate of solute transfer across the stream-subsurface interface compared to homogeneous beds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology