HS8.3.1

Understanding complex infiltration and recharge dynamics represents a huge challenge in modern hydrogeology. A proper identification of pathway activation, inter-continuum exchange processes, and storage behavior, though often neglected, is mandatory for accurate modeling studies. Preferential pathways such as fractures, fracture networks, faults, and macropores strongly affect travel-time distributions, system vulnerability, and connectivity of surface-subsurface ecosystems, requiring adapted strategies for groundwater management. Specifically, in fractured or karstified porous media, where the unsaturated zone is typically ranging from a few meters up to several hundred meters thick, rapid and locally focused flows are an important driver for recharge dynamics.

Flows within the vadose zone of soils and consolidated fractured formations are often associated with high contrasts in hydraulic properties or in geometric features of the porous medium, and hence with a partitioning of water flow into several sub-domains (macropores, fractures). As infiltration processes occur on scales ranging from pore-size to catchment-size, unified scale-continuous concepts for their onset and magnitude are extremely difficult to identify. The accessibility of thick vadose zones for in-situ field studies is often limited or impossible to realize and studies typically rely on limited data, commonly obtained at the system boundaries, e.g., precipitation/recharge, water table fluctuations, or spring discharge. This session welcomes research with a focus on field studies, laboratory experiments, and analytical or numerical methods that target complex infiltration and recharge processes, including interaction dynamics of preferential flow paths and porous matrix systems under saturated and variably-saturated conditions.

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Convener: Jannes KordillaECSECS | Co-conveners: Marco Dentz, John Nimmo, Noam Weisbrod

Understanding complex infiltration and recharge dynamics represents a huge challenge in modern hydrogeology. A proper identification of pathway activation, inter-continuum exchange processes, and storage behavior, though often neglected, is mandatory for accurate modeling studies. Preferential pathways such as fractures, fracture networks, faults, and macropores strongly affect travel-time distributions, system vulnerability, and connectivity of surface-subsurface ecosystems, requiring adapted strategies for groundwater management. Specifically, in fractured or karstified porous media, where the unsaturated zone is typically ranging from a few meters up to several hundred meters thick, rapid and locally focused flows are an important driver for recharge dynamics.

Flows within the vadose zone of soils and consolidated fractured formations are often associated with high contrasts in hydraulic properties or in geometric features of the porous medium, and hence with a partitioning of water flow into several sub-domains (macropores, fractures). As infiltration processes occur on scales ranging from pore-size to catchment-size, unified scale-continuous concepts for their onset and magnitude are extremely difficult to identify. The accessibility of thick vadose zones for in-situ field studies is often limited or impossible to realize and studies typically rely on limited data, commonly obtained at the system boundaries, e.g., precipitation/recharge, water table fluctuations, or spring discharge. This session welcomes research with a focus on field studies, laboratory experiments, and analytical or numerical methods that target complex infiltration and recharge processes, including interaction dynamics of preferential flow paths and porous matrix systems under saturated and variably-saturated conditions.