21 Apr 2021

21 Apr 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Transmissivity and groundwater flow exert a strong influence on drainage density

Elco Luijendijk Elco Luijendijk
  • Independent scientist, Hanssenstrasse 7, 37073, Göttingen, Germany

Abstract. The extent to which groundwater flow affects drainage density and erosion has long been debated, but is still uncertain. Here, I present a new hybrid analytical and numerical model that simulates groundwater flow, overland flow, hillslope erosion and stream incision. The model is used to explore the relation between groundwater flow and the incision and persistence of streams for a set of parameters that represent average humid climate conditions. The results show that transmissivityand groundwater flow exert a strong control on drainage density. High transmissivity results in low drainage density and high incision rates and vice versa, with drainage density varying roughly linearly with transmissivity. The model evolves by a process that is defined here as groundwater capture, whereby streams with a higher rate of incision draw the watertable below neighbouring streams, which subsequently run dry and stop incising. This process is less efficient in models with low transmissivity due to the association of low transmissivity and high watertable gradients. A comparison of different parameters shows that drainage density is the most sensitive to transmissivity, followed by parameters that govern initial slope and stream erosion. These results imply that permeability and transmissivity exert a strong control on drainage density, stream incision and landscape evolution and that models of landscape evolution may need to explicitly include groundwater flow.

Elco Luijendijk

Status: open (until 02 Jun 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of esurf-2021-33', Marijn van der Meij, 10 May 2021 reply

Elco Luijendijk

Model code and software

GOEMod: groundwater flow, overland flow and erosion model Elco Luijendijk

Elco Luijendijk


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Short summary
The distance between rivers is a noticable feature of the earth's surface. Previous work has hinted that subsurface groundwater flow may be important for drainage density. Here I present a new model that combines subsurface and surface water flow and erosion, which demonstrates that groundwater is an important control on drainage density. Streams that incise rapidly can capture groundwater discharge of adjacent streams, which may cause these streams to fall dry and stop incising.