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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 May 2020

14 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Modelling the hydrological interactions between a fissured granite aquifer and a valley mire in the Massif Central, France

Arnaud Duranel1,2, Julian R. Thompson1, Helene Burningham1, Philippe Durepaire3, Stéphane Garambois4, Robert Wyns5, and Hervé Cubizolle2 Arnaud Duranel et al.
  • 1UCL Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  • 2Lyon University, UMR 5600 CNRS EVS, 42023 Saint-Etienne CEDEX 2, France
  • 3Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels de Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Réserve Naturelle Nationale de la Tourbière des Dauges, Sauvagnac, 87340 Saint-Léger-la-Montagne, France
  • 4Université Grenoble Alpes, Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, CNRS, IRD, IFSTTAR, ISTerre, UMR 5275, 38041 Grenoble, France
  • 5Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières, ISTO, UMR 7327, 45060 Orléans, France

Abstract. The contribution of groundwater to the hydrology of hard rock regions has long been assumed to be small. This is being progressively challenged and conceptual hydrological models of headwater wetlands in these regions may need to be revised. We developed a high-resolution MIKE SHE/MIKE 11 model of a 231.3 ha headwater catchment in the granitic uplands of the French Massif Central to estimate the contribution of groundwater upwelling to the water balance of the Dauges mire, an acidic valley mire of international importance for nature conservation. We estimated that groundwater upwelling from the underlying granite weathering formations – mostly an approximately 55  m deep fissured zone – provides 27.1 % of total long-term inflows to the mire. This contribution increases to 37.2 % in September when total inflows are small. Overland boundary inflow accounts for an average of 40.2 % of total inflows. However most of this originates from groundwater seepage through mineral soils along the mire margins or in small unchannelized valleys upslope of the mire. A sensitivity analysis showed that model performance in terms of the simulation of mire groundwater levels was most sensitive to parameters describing the mineral soils and granite weathered formations rather than the overlying peat layer. Variation partitioning showed that groundwater upwelling was the most important factor driving simulated monthly groundwater table depth within the mire. Sustained groundwater upwelling maintains the mire water table close to or at ground level for most of the year. As a result, precipitation and overland boundary inflows are mostly evacuated as saturation-excess runoff. There was close agreement between the observed distribution of mire habitats and areas where the simulated long-term groundwater seepage rate was larger than zero in September. Groundwater upwelling from the underlying weathered formations can be a quantitatively important and functionally critical element of the water balance of valley mires in granitic headwater catchments. These results have important legal and management implications.

Arnaud Duranel et al.

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Arnaud Duranel et al.

Arnaud Duranel et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Peat-forming wetlands (mires) provide multiple ecosystem services, which depend on peat remaining waterlogged. Using hydrological modelling, we show that, contrary to a common assumption, groundwater inflow can be a quantitatively important and functionally critical element of the water balance of mires in hard rock upland and mountain areas. This influence is such that patterns of groundwater upwelling and seepage explain the spatial distribution of mires in the landscape.
Peat-forming wetlands (mires) provide multiple ecosystem services, which depend on peat...