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Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer - Conceptual Model Testing

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Created: Jan 29, 2019 at 10:21 p.m.
Last updated: Mar 21, 2022 at 7:22 p.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.446341bd0a3149abbcf3ec72dffb84a1
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Sharing Status: Published
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Quantitative characterization of the dynamics of water exchange fluxes between rivers and aquifers is necessary for water resources management, water quality, environment and ecology of the river-aquifer systems. The main uncertain factors for predicting river–aquifer exchange fluxes are aquifer and riverbed properties. In this study, we characterize the flux exchange dynamics between Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer and Brazos River, TX, USA, using alternative conceptual models. Six alternative conceptual models for the connection between the river and the aquifer, having varying aquifer lithology and river incision levels and incorporating processes such as river bed clogging and seepage face flow, are numerically modeled in HYDRUS 2D using small-scale, high-resolution transects across the river. Modeled results are tested against observed heads in three wells and finally a best-fit conceptual model is used to quantify river-aquifer flux exchange dynamics. Additionally we focused on how factors such as aquifer lithology, river channel incision, water table conditions, seepage face boundaries, and low-conductivity river-bed effect hydraulic head distribution and the corresponding flux exchange dynamics. Our results demonstrate that only a small portion of the aquifer close to the river channel is well-connected with the river and a major portion of the aquifer is disconnected. The proposed conceptual model predicts a) much frequent flux reversals (changes between gaining and losing conditions) and b) much smaller amount of recharge and discharges compared to that of the conceptual model which has been assumed by earlier studies; a reduction of 151% in recharge and 116% in discharges. These results suggest that the magnitude and dynamics of water flux exchange between the river and the aquifer are independent of the hydraulic gradients in the wider disconnected aquifer and are determined by the hydraulic gradients in the connected aquifer close to the river. The results also demonstrate that river-aquifer flux exchange is sensitive to aquifer lithology, river incision depth, and river-bed clogging. While different settings of aquifer lithology and river incision can produce very similar heads in the wider aquifer, the hydraulic head distribution close to the river and hence the river-aquifer flux exchange varies quite drastically from model to model. River-bed clogging decreases the magnitude of fluxes and effects hydraulic head in the aquifer, especially in the vicinity of the river channel, depending upon the gaining and losing river conditions. Furthermore, seepage face flow could be of the same order as that of flows through river-bed depending upon aquifer lithology and corresponding river incision depth.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Texas A&M Hydrogeological Field Site
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:


Additional Metadata

Name Value
Modeling Software HYDRUS-2D, Version 2.05, PC-Progress

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Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation CAREER CBET 13551558


People or Organizations that contributed technically, materially, financially, or provided general support for the creation of the resource's content but are not considered authors.

Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
Kimberly Rhodes Texas A&M University

How to Cite

Mehmood, T., G. R. Miller, P. Knappett (2022). Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer - Conceptual Model Testing, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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