Channel Transmission Loss Studies During Ephemeral Flow Events: ER-5-3 Channel and Cambric Ditch, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada

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Transmission losses along ephemeral channels are an important, yet poorly understood, aspect of rainfall-runoff prediction. Losses occur as flow infiltrates channel bed, banks, and floodplains. Estimating transmission losses in arid environments is difficult because of the variability of surficial geomorphic characteristics and infiltration capacities of soils and near-surface low-permeability geologic layers (e.g., calcrete). Transmission losses in ephemeral channels are nonlinear functions of discharge and time (Lane, 1972), and vary spatially along the channel reach and with soil antecedent moisture conditions (Sharma and Murthy, 1994). Rainfall-runoff models used to estimate peak discharge and runoff volume for flood hazard assessment are not ... continued below

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Miller, J.J.; Mizell, S.A.; French, R.H.; Meadows, D.G. & Young, M.H. October 1, 2005.

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Transmission losses along ephemeral channels are an important, yet poorly understood, aspect of rainfall-runoff prediction. Losses occur as flow infiltrates channel bed, banks, and floodplains. Estimating transmission losses in arid environments is difficult because of the variability of surficial geomorphic characteristics and infiltration capacities of soils and near-surface low-permeability geologic layers (e.g., calcrete). Transmission losses in ephemeral channels are nonlinear functions of discharge and time (Lane, 1972), and vary spatially along the channel reach and with soil antecedent moisture conditions (Sharma and Murthy, 1994). Rainfall-runoff models used to estimate peak discharge and runoff volume for flood hazard assessment are not designed specifically for ephemeral channels, where transmission loss can be significant because of the available storage volume in channel soils. Accuracy of the flow routing and rainfall-runoff models is dependent on the transmission loss estimate. Transmission loss rate is the most uncertain parameter in flow routing through ephemeral channels. This research, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and conducted at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), is designed to improve understanding of the impact of transmission loss on ephemeral flood modeling and compare various methodologies for predicting runoff from rainfall events. Various applications of this research to DOE projects include more site-specific accuracy in runoff prediction; possible reduction in size of flood mitigation structures at the NTS; and a better understanding of expected infiltration from runoff losses into landfill covers. Two channel transmission loss field experiments were performed on the NTS between 2001 and 2003: the first was conducted in the ER-5-3 channel (Miller et al., 2003), between March and June 2001, and the second was conducted in the Cambric Ditch (Mizell et al., 2005), between April and July 2003. Both studies used water discharged from unrelated drilling activities during well development and aquifer pump tests. Discharge measurements at several flumes located along the channels were used to directly measure transmission losses. Flume locations were chosen in relation to geomorphic surface types and ages, vegetative cover and types, subsurface indurated layers (calcrete), channel slopes, etc. Transmission losses were quantified using three different analysis methods. Method 1 uses Lane's Method (Lane, 1983) for estimating flood magnitude in ephemeral channels. Method 2 uses heat as a subsurface tracer for infiltration. Numerical modeling, using HYDRUS-2D (Simunek et al., 1999), a finite-element-based flow and transport code, was applied to estimate infiltration from soil temperature data. Method 3 uses hydraulic gradient and water content in a Darcy's Law approach (Freeze and Cherry, 1979) to calculate one-dimensional flow rates. Heat dissipation and water content data were collected for this analysis.

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  • Report No.: DOE/NV/13609--42
  • Grant Number: AC52-00NV13609
  • DOI: 10.2172/876752 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 876752
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc876485

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  • October 1, 2005

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 10:11 p.m.

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Miller, J.J.; Mizell, S.A.; French, R.H.; Meadows, D.G. & Young, M.H. Channel Transmission Loss Studies During Ephemeral Flow Events: ER-5-3 Channel and Cambric Ditch, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada, report, October 1, 2005; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc876485/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.