Interactions between hyporheic flow produced by stream meanders, bars, and dunes

Susa H. Stonedahl, Judson W. Harvey, Aaron I. Packman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Stream channel morphology from grain-scale roughness to large meanders drives hyporheic exchange flow. In practice, it is difficult to model hyporheic flow over the wide spectrum of topographic features typically found in rivers. As a result, many studies only characterize isolated exchange processes at a single spatial scale. In this work, we simulated hyporheic flows induced by a range of geomorphic features including meanders, bars and dunes in sand bed streams. Twenty cases were examined with 5 degrees of river meandering. Each meandering river model was run initially without any small topographic features. Models were run again after superimposing only bars and then only dunes, and then run a final time after including all scales of topographic features. This allowed us to investigate the relative importance and interactions between flows induced by different scales of topography. We found that dunes typically contributed more to hyporheic exchange than bars and meanders. Furthermore, our simulations show that the volume of water exchanged and the distributions of hyporheic residence times resulting from various scales of topographic features are close to, but not linearly additive. These findings can potentially be used to develop scaling laws for hyporheic flow that can be widely applied in streams and rivers. Key Points Exchanges induced by different scales of topography are not linearly additive. Dunes dominated exchange in the absence of highly sinuous meanders. Interfacial flux increased with sinuosity with and without bars and dunes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5450-5461
Number of pages12
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • hyporheic
  • modeling
  • multiscale
  • streams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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