Riverbed Temperature and 4D ERT Monitoring Reveals Heterogenous Horizontal and Vertical Groundwater-Surface Water Exchange Flows Under Dynamic Stage Conditions

Journal Article
Frontiers in Earth Science, vol. 10, 2022
Tim Johnson, Jon Thomle, Chris Stickland, Amy Goldman, James Stegen
Groundwater surface water exchange plays a critical role in physical, biological, and geochemical function of coastal and riverine systems. Observing exchange flow behavior in heterogeneous systems is a primary challenge, particularly when flows are governed by dynamic river stage or tidal variations. In this paper we demonstrate a novel application of time-lapse 3D electrical resistivity tomography and temperature monitoring where an array of thermistors installed beneath a riverbed double as resistivity electrodes. We use the array to monitor stage driven exchange flows over a 6-day period in a dynamic, stage-driven high order stream. We present a method for addressing the otherwise confounding effects of the moving river-surface boundary on the raw resistivity data, thereby enabling successful tomographic imaging. Temperature time-series at each thermistor location and time-lapse 3D images of changes in bulk electrical conductivity together provide a detailed description of exchange dynamics over a 10-meter by 45-meter section of the riverbed, to a depth of approximately 5 m. Results reveal highly variable flux behavior throughout the monitoring domain including both horizontal and vertical exchange flows.