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Modelling flow and heat transfer through unsaturated chalk – Validation with experimental data from the ground surface to the aquifer

Abstract : During the winter and spring of 2000–2001, large floods occurred in northern France (Somme River Basin) and southern England (Patcham area of Brighton) in valleys that are developed on Chalk outcrops. The floods durations were particularly long (more than 3 months in the Somme Basin) and caused significant damage in both countries. To improve the understanding of groundwater flooding in Chalk catchments, an experimental site was set up in the Hallue basin, which is located in the Somme River Basin (France). Unsaturated fractured chalk formation overlying the Chalk aquifer was monitored to understand its reaction to long and heavy rainfall events when it reaches a near saturation state. The water content and soil temperature were monitored to a depth of 8 m, and the matrix pressure was monitored down to the water table, 26.5 m below ground level. The monitoring extended over a 2.5-year period (2006–2008) under natural conditions and during two periods when heavy, artificial infiltration was induced. The objective of the paper is to describe a vertical numerical flow model based on Richards’ equation using these data that was developed to simulate infiltrating rainwater flow from the ground surface to the saturated aquifer. The MARTHE computer code, which models the unsaturated-saturated continuum, was adapted to reproduce the monitored high saturation periods. Composite constitutive functions (hydraulic conductivity-saturation and pressure-saturation) that integrate the increase in hydraulic conductivity near saturation and extra available porosity resulting from fractures were introduced into the code. Using these composite constitutive functions, the model was able to accurately simulate the water contents and pressures at all depths over the entire monitored period, including the infiltration tests. The soil temperature was also accurately simulated at all depths, except during the infiltrations tests, which contributes to the model validation. The model was used to calculate the aquifer recharge over a long period that included droughts and floods. The calculated recharge is realistic as it makes it possible to simulate the corresponding monitored groundwater level data, which increases confidence in the modelling approach.
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https://hal-brgm.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01671664
Contributeur : Dominique Thiéry <>
Soumis le : vendredi 22 décembre 2017 - 14:51:48
Dernière modification le : mercredi 15 avril 2020 - 10:08:15

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Dominique Thiéry, Nadia Amraoui, Marie-Luce Noyer. Modelling flow and heat transfer through unsaturated chalk – Validation with experimental data from the ground surface to the aquifer. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2018, 556, pp.660 - 673. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.11.041⟩. ⟨hal-01671664⟩

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