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An expression for land surface water storage monitoring using a two-formation geological weighing lysimeter

Field studies have demonstrated that ground surface rainfall accumulation can be detected at depth by synchronous increases in static confined groundwater pore pressures. This opens the way for “geological weighing lysimeters” providing disturbance-free water storage monitoring of the surface environment, in effect by weighing a significant land area in real time. Such systems require specific hydrogeological conditions, which are not easily verified by field observations and replicated observations from multiple geological formations are a prerequisite for quality control. Given replication over two monitored formations, we introduce an expression which utilises the respective formation piezometric water levels to give an improved combined estimate of the ground surface water budget. The expression utilises raw piezometric levels and has the advantage of direct correction for Earth tide noise, which may sometimes be influenced by local effects in addition to the pure solar/lunar tidal potential. The expression is particularly simple, if the two formations have similar (but possibly unknown) undrained Poisson ratios and porosities. Surface water budgets can then be estimated using only the respective formation barometric coefficients and piezometric levels. An example application to two vertically separated confined aquifers at a New Zealand site indicate an improved accuracy over single-formation observations. The two-formation expression for surface storage could find use as an accurate water budget tool with particular application to monitoring diffuse hydrological systems such as wetlands, arid regions, and heavily forested localities.
Type of thesis
Bardsley, W.E. & Campbell, D.I. (2007). An expression for land surface water storage monitoring using a two-formation geological weighing lysimeter. Journal of Hydrology, 335(3-4), 240-246.
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Journal of Hydrology. © 2007 Elsevier B.V.