Insight into the influence of local streambed heterogeneity on hyporheic-zone flow characteristics

Robert Earon*, Joakim Riml, Liwen Wu, Bo Olofsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Interaction between surface water and groundwater plays a fundamental role in influencing aquatic chemistry, where hyporheic exchange processes, distribution of flow paths and residence times within the hyporheic zone will influence the transport of mass and energy in the surface-water/groundwater system. Geomorphological conditions greatly influence hyporheic exchange, and heterogeneities such as rocks and clay lenses will be a key factor for delineating the hyporheic zone. Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) were used to investigate the streambed along a 6.3-m-long reach in order to characterise geological layering and distinct features which may influence parameters such as hydraulic conductivity. Time-lapse ERT measurements taken during a tracer injection demonstrated that geological features at the meter-scale played a determining role for the hyporheic flow field. The penetration depth of the tracer into the streambed sediment displayed a variable spatial pattern in areas where the presence of highly resistive anomalies was detected. In areas with more homogeneous sediments, the penetration depth was much more uniformly distributed than observed in more heterogeneous sections, demonstrating that ERT can play a vital role in identifying critical hydraulic features that may influence hyporheic exchange processes. Reciprocal ERT measurements linked variability and thus uncertainty in the modelled resistivity to the spatial locations, which also demonstrated larger variability in the tracer penetration depth, likely due to local heterogeneity in the hydraulic conductivity field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2697-2712
Number of pages16
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrical resistivity tomography
  • Geophysical methods
  • Groundwater/surface-water relations
  • Heterogeneity
  • Tracer tests


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