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Groundwater flow dynamic simulations of a buried valley aquifer calibrated with field and remotely sensed data

Buried valleys are a common occurrence in the North American prairie landscape. They are often characterized as high yield sources of groundwater in regions where low yield shale and tills dominate the hydrogeological setting. Firstly, 3D conceptual and geological models have been
generated and used as a basis for creating a 3D finite element groundwater flow model. Field data, including piezometric readings, base flow measurements, and soil moisture probe data were collected between 2011 and 2013 and are used for calibrating the flow model. Secondly, the study aims to
improve the spatial discretization of recharge estimates and include these refined values in the flow model. A temporal series of C-band Radar data and several land surface models were compared with the soil moisture probe data from the Spiritwood buried valley aquifer. The radar backscatter was
used to develop moisture estimates at the regional scale. These estimates were then input into the HELP multi-parameter recharge model with the aim of assisting in estimates of a spatial discretization for groundwater recharge. Preliminary groundwater simulation results, with uniform recharge, show
good agreement with piezometer readings and measured base flow readings. The temporal series of C-band radar backscatter, moisture probe data, and land surface models show corresponding variations between October, 2011 and October, 2012. The high resolution and regional extent of the radar data has
a high potential to help develop a better understanding of recharge patterns in buried valley settings. Integrating a temporal series of high-resolution data into conceptual and numerical model development will refine our mapping, understanding and assessment of buried valley aquifers. Future work
will include incorporating the spatially variable recharge estimates into the 3D finite element flow model. Additionally, various interpretations of the geological model will be tested to determine the extent, if any, that a geophysical dataset (airborne electromagnetic AEM or seismic) can help
yield a more realistic flow pattern in buried valley aquifers.

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