A seepage face is a nonlinear dynamic boundary that strongly affects pressure head distributions, water table fluctuations, and flow patterns. Its handling in hydrological models, especially under complex conditions such as heterogeneity and coupled surface/subsurface flow, has not been extensively studied. In this paper, we compare the treatment of the seepage face as a static (Dirichlet) versus dynamic boundary condition, we assess its resolution under conditions of layered heterogeneity, we examine its interaction with a catchment outlet boundary, and we investigate the effects of surface/subsurface exchanges on seepage faces forming at the land surface. The analyses are carried out with an integrated catchment hydrological model. Numerical simulations are performed for a synthetic rectangular sloping aquifer and for an experimental hillslope from the Landscape Evolution Observatory. The results show that the static boundary condition is not always an adequate stand-in for a dynamic seepage face boundary condition, especially under conditions of high rainfall, steep slope, or heterogeneity; that hillslopes with layered heterogeneity give rise to multiple seepage faces that can be highly dynamic; that seepage face and outlet boundaries can coexist in an integrated hydrological model and both play an important role; and that seepage faces at the land surface are not always controlled by subsurface flow. The paper also presents a generalized algorithm for resolving seepage face outflow that handles heterogeneity in a simple way, is applicable to unstructured grids, and is shown experimentally to be equivalent to the treatment of atmospheric boundary conditions in subsurface flow models.

Examination of the seepage face boundary condition in subsurface and coupled surface/subsurface hydrological models

Pasetto D.
Methodology
;
2017

Abstract

A seepage face is a nonlinear dynamic boundary that strongly affects pressure head distributions, water table fluctuations, and flow patterns. Its handling in hydrological models, especially under complex conditions such as heterogeneity and coupled surface/subsurface flow, has not been extensively studied. In this paper, we compare the treatment of the seepage face as a static (Dirichlet) versus dynamic boundary condition, we assess its resolution under conditions of layered heterogeneity, we examine its interaction with a catchment outlet boundary, and we investigate the effects of surface/subsurface exchanges on seepage faces forming at the land surface. The analyses are carried out with an integrated catchment hydrological model. Numerical simulations are performed for a synthetic rectangular sloping aquifer and for an experimental hillslope from the Landscape Evolution Observatory. The results show that the static boundary condition is not always an adequate stand-in for a dynamic seepage face boundary condition, especially under conditions of high rainfall, steep slope, or heterogeneity; that hillslopes with layered heterogeneity give rise to multiple seepage faces that can be highly dynamic; that seepage face and outlet boundaries can coexist in an integrated hydrological model and both play an important role; and that seepage faces at the land surface are not always controlled by subsurface flow. The paper also presents a generalized algorithm for resolving seepage face outflow that handles heterogeneity in a simple way, is applicable to unstructured grids, and is shown experimentally to be equivalent to the treatment of atmospheric boundary conditions in subsurface flow models.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3722244
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