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Turbulent and Laminar Flow in Karst Conduits Under Unsteady Flow Conditions: Interpretation of Pumping Tests by Discrete Conduit-Continuum Modeling

Journal article
Authors Markus Giese
Thomas Reimann
Vincent Bailly-Comte
Jean-Christophe Maréchal
Martin Sauter
Tobias Geyer
Published in Water Resources Research
Volume 54
Issue 3
Pages 1918-1933
ISSN 0043-1397
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 1918-1933
Language en
Subject categories Hydrology, Water in nature and society


Due to the duality in terms of (1) the groundwater flow field and (2) the discharge conditions, flow patterns of karst aquifer systems are complex. Estimated aquifer parameters may differ by several orders of magnitude from local (borehole) to regional (catchment) scale because of the large contrast in hydraulic parameters between matrix and conduit, their heterogeneity and anisotropy. One approach to deal with the scale effect problem in the estimation of hydraulic parameters of karst aquifers is the application of large-scale experiments such as long-term high-abstraction conduit pumping tests, stimulating measurable groundwater drawdown in both, the karst conduit system as well as the fractured matrix. The numerical discrete conduit-continuum modeling approach MODFLOW-2005 Conduit Flow Process Mode 1 (CFPM1) is employed to simulate laminar and nonlaminar conduit flow, induced by large-scale experiments, in combination with Darcian matrix flow. Effects of large-scale experiments were simulated for idealized settings. Subsequently, diagnostic plots and analyses of different fluxes are applied to interpret differences in the simulated conduit drawdown and general flow patterns. The main focus is set on the question to which extent different conduit flow regimes will affect the drawdown in conduit and matrix depending on the hydraulic properties of the conduit system, i.e., conduit diameter and relative roughness. In this context, CFPM1 is applied to investigate the importance of considering turbulent conditions for the simulation of karst conduit flow. This work quantifies the relative error that results from assuming laminar conduit flow for the interpretation of a synthetic large-scale pumping test in karst.

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