Mapping Groundwater Seepage in a Fen Using Thermal Imaging

Ogochukwu Ozotta, Philip J. Gerla
2021 Geosciences  
The transport of dissolved minerals and groundwater flow plays a crucial role in the ecosystem of many wetlands. Nonetheless, installing equipment to monitor groundwater seepage is invasive, harms vegetation, and can impact biodiversity. By remotely mapping surface temperature in late summer, when there is the greatest difference between warm soil and cold groundwater, temperature patterns can expose areas with the greatest upward gradient and flow. The conventional method of using tensiometers
more » ... using tensiometers to measure hydraulic gradient and estimate flux using Darcy's law was applied and compared with thermal imaging to characterize groundwater seepage at two contrasting sites within a central North Dakota fen (groundwater discharge wetland). Both sites exhibited variable gradients between the shallow and deep tensiometers. The temperature trend determined from the thermal imaging showed a closer relationship to the measured hydraulic gradients at the herbaceous (Sedge) site than at the wooded (Willow) site. Saturated hydraulic conductivity K ranged from 6 × 10−5 to 2 × 10−4 m/s for the Willow site; and 6 × 10−6 to 1 × 10−4 m/s for Sedge site. The flux calculated for the Willow site ranged from 1.4 × 10−5 to 2.7 × 10−4 m/s and that of the Sedge site ranged from 2.2 × 10−6 to 6.3 × 10−5 m/s. The gradients are affected at shallow depth because of heterogeneous soil stratigraphy, which is likely the reason that seepage faces at the sites cannot be mapped solely by thermal imaging.
doi:10.3390/geosciences11010029 fatcat:2mofpk47evdkzblyicfyh2m57q