Field Studies of Streamflow Generation Using Natural and Injected Tracers on Bickford and Walker Branch Watersheds

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Field studies of streamflow generation were undertaken on two forested watersheds, the West Road subcatchment of Bickford Watershed in central Massachusetts and the West Fork of Walker Branch Watershed in eastern Tennessee. A major component of the research was development of a two-stage methodology for the use of naturally-occurring {sup 222}Rn as a tracer. The first of the two stages was solving a mass-balance equation for {sup 222}Rn around a stream reach of interest in order to calculate [Rn]{sub q}, the {sup 222}Rn content of the lateral inflow to the reach; a conservative tracer (chloride) and a volatile tracer (propane) ... continued below

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Genereux, D. May 1992.

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Field studies of streamflow generation were undertaken on two forested watersheds, the West Road subcatchment of Bickford Watershed in central Massachusetts and the West Fork of Walker Branch Watershed in eastern Tennessee. A major component of the research was development of a two-stage methodology for the use of naturally-occurring {sup 222}Rn as a tracer. The first of the two stages was solving a mass-balance equation for {sup 222}Rn around a stream reach of interest in order to calculate [Rn]{sub q}, the {sup 222}Rn content of the lateral inflow to the reach; a conservative tracer (chloride) and a volatile tracer (propane) were injected into the study stream to account for lateral inflow to, and {sup 222}Rn volatilization from, the study reach. The second stage involved quantitative comparison of [Rn]{sub q} to the measured {sup 222}Rn concentrations of different subsurface waters in order to assess how important these waters were in contributing lateral inflow to the stream reach. The method was first applied to a 34 m stream reach at Bickford during baseflow; results suggested that {ge} 70% of the lateral inflow could be considered vadose zone water (water which had been in a saturated zone for less than a few days), and the remainder ''soil groundwater'' or ''saturated zone water'' (which had a longer residence time in a soil saturated zone). The method was then applied to two stream reaches on the West Fork of Walker Branch over a wide range of flow conditions; four springs were also investigated. It was found that springwater and inflow to the stream could be viewed as a mixture of water from three end members: the two defined at Bickford (vadose zone water and soil groundwater) and a third (bedrock groundwater) to account for the movement of water through fractured dolomite bedrock. Calcium was used as a second naturally-occurring tracer to distinguish bedrock groundwater from the other two end members. The behavior indicated by the three-end-member mixing model (e.g., increased importance of the two soil end members with increasing flow, and the differences between the stream reaches and among some of the springs) were consistent with a wide variety of environmental observations, including temperature and flow variations at springs, water table responses, the general lack of saturated zones on hillslopes and even near the stream in some places, and the importance of water movement through bedrock.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Jan 1992

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-12018
  • Grant Number: AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/814085 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 814085
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc739154

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  • May 1992

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  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • March 30, 2016, 8:23 p.m.

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Genereux, D. Field Studies of Streamflow Generation Using Natural and Injected Tracers on Bickford and Walker Branch Watersheds, report, May 1992; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc739154/: accessed August 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.