Articles | Volume 13, issue 9
08 Sep 2009
 | 08 Sep 2009

A modeling study of heterogeneity and surface water-groundwater interactions in the Thomas Brook catchment, Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia, Canada)

M. J. Gauthier, M. Camporese, C. Rivard, C. Paniconi, and M. Larocque

Abstract. A modelling study of the impacts of subsurface heterogeneity on the hydrologic response of a small catchment is reported. The study is focused in particular on the hydraulic connection and interactions between surface water and groundwater. A coupled (1-D surface/3-D subsurface) numerical model is used to investigate, for a range of scenarios, the spatio-temporal patterns of response variables such as return flow, recharge, groundwater levels, surface saturation, and streamflow. Eight scenarios of increasing geological complexity are simulated for an 8 km2 catchment in the Annapolis Valley (eastern Canada), introducing at each step more realistic representations of the geological strata and corresponding hydraulic properties. In a ninth scenario the effects of snow accumulation and snowmelt are also considered. The results show that response variables and significant features of the catchment (e.g. springs) can be adequately reproduced using a representation of the geology and model parameter values that are based on targeted fieldwork and existing databases, and that reflect to a sufficient degree the geological and hydrological complexity of the study area. The hydraulic conductivity values of the thin surficial sediment cover (especially till) and of the basalts in the upstream reaches emerge as key elements of the basin's heterogeneity for properly capturing the overall catchment response.