ABSTRACT

In south-central Texas the lower Guadalupe River has incised into the outcrop of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. The river and the aquifer are hydraulically connected across the outcrop, although the connectivity is obscured at the surface by alluvium and surface-water and groundwater exchange dynamics are currently poorly understood. To investigate surface-water and groundwater exchange dynamics between the lower Guadalupe River and the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer, a geophysical study was completed along a 14.86 km reach of the river by using water-borne gradient self-potential (SP) profiling and two-dimensional direct-current electric resistivity tomography. This paper explores the applicability of these water-borne geoelectric methods in delineating gaining and losing channel reaches, and demonstrates that geoelectric signals in the form of total electric field strength can be logged with an electric dipole and decomposed into component SP signals depicting regional and local groundwater flow patterns attributable to regional and localized hydraulic gradients. Localized SP anomalies of several tens of millivolts, indicative of hyporheic exchange flows, are observed and superimposed upon a 124 mV regional SP anomaly indicative of ambient groundwater exchange flows between the river and the aquifer. The observed SP signals are interpreted through two-dimensional finite-element modeling of streaming potentials attributable to ambient groundwater exchange and hyporheic exchange flow patterns. Variables of the channel environment such as temperature and concentration gradients, depth, and velocity are considered and subsequently eliminated as alternative sources of the SP signals that are presented.

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