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The heterogeneity of 3-D vertical hydraulic conductivity in a streambed


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The heterogeneity of vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) is a key attribute of streambed for researchers investigating surface water–groundwater interaction. However, few three-dimensional (3-D) Kv models with high spatial resolutions have been achieved. In this study, in-situ permeameter tests were conducted to obtain Kv values. A 3-D model with 443 Kv values was built comprising 10 lines, 10 rows, and five layers. Statistical analysis was done to reveal the spatial characteristics of Kv. The influence of bedform on Kv values was restricted to the near-surface streambed. Kv increased with the increasing distance from the south river bank for the upmost layer, but it was not the case for other layers and the combined Kv values of five layers; the spatial pattern at transects across the channel did not differ significantly. The Kv values of each layer pertained to different populations; the sediments of individual layers were formed under different sedimentation environments. The coupling of erosion/deposition process and transport of fine materials primarily contributed to a reduction of the mean and median of Kv values and an increase of heterogeneity of Kv values with depth. Thus, a collection of Kv values obtained from different layers should be considered when characterizing the heterogeneity of streambed.

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