Doble, R.C., R.S. Crosbie, B.D. Smerdon, L. Peeters, and F.J. Cook, 2012: “Groundwater recharge from overbank floods.” Water Resources Research, v. 48, paper no. W09522, doi: 10.1029/2011WR011441.
Overbank flood recharge is increasingly acknowledged as important for estimations of aquifer sustainable yield. The physics of this process in areas with shallow groundwater, however, is not well understood and typically is not included in river or groundwater models. Modeling of the overbank flood recharge process was undertaken using a fully coupled, surface-subsurface flow model to compare the volume of infiltration through a floodplain with varying surface sediment, aquifer, and flood parameters. The infiltration volume was found to increase with the conductance of the clogging layer (represented by a thin veneer of sediments across the floodplain and river bed), flood wave height, peak duration, and aquifer transmissivity and to decrease with increasing water table gradient (positive toward the river). The influence of the flood wave and aquifer hydraulic parameters was more pronounced in systems with sand or loam clogging layers. Irregularities in floodplain elevation had a large effect on infiltration volume. A dimensionless analysis of the flood recharge process identified the factors that limited flood infiltration for each of the modeled scenarios: the clogging layer conductance, unsaturated aquifer storage, or aquifer transmissivity. A dimensionless number F* was used to predict the limiting factor in floodplain systems. An analytical equation was developed to estimate the infiltration volume for catchments where full numerical modeling is not warranted or applicable. Results from the analytical equation compared favorably with recharge modeled using a more complex numerical model.