Exploring hydrologic connectivity between shallow and deep groundwater flow systems in upland catchments
The primary goal of this project will be to investigate the interaction between shallow soil flow and deep bedrock groundwater in upland catchments, and to determine the dominant physical processes controlling their interaction in space and time. The partitioning of water between surface, soil and groundwater reservoirs determines the volume of storage and the rate of transmission of water through a watershed. Surface water and shallow soil water reservoirs have lower storage volumes and faster response times than groundwater reservoirs, and the partitioning of water between these reservoirs will exert primary control on watershed response to weather and climate. Little is known about the connection of soil flow and deep bedrock groundwater systems in mountainous areas where these interactions are complicated by high slope angles and complex topography and geology. Greater insight into the dominant processes that contribute to spatial patterns of groundwater recharge from shallow soil flow systems, and how these interactions vary with wetness conditions will be crucial for adaptive management and apriori assessment of Montana's water resources. The knowledge generated from this project will enhance MT water resource managers' ability to manage water supplies for human and ecological benefits and predict sensitivity to land use and climatic change.
Dr. Payton Gardner is Assistant Professor of Hydrogeology in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Montana. He will be conducting this research in partnership with Kelsey Jensco, Assistant Professor of Hydrology and State Climatologist at the Montana Climate Office, University of Montana.