Articles | Volume 372
12 Nov 2015
 | 12 Nov 2015

Examples of deformation-dependent flow simulations of conjunctive use with MF-OWHM

R. T. Hanson, J. Traum, S. E. Boyce, W. Schmid, and J. D. Hughes

Abstract. The dependency of surface- and groundwater flows and aquifer hydraulic properties on deformation induced by changes in aquifer head is not accounted for in the standard version of MODFLOW. A new USGS integrated hydrologic model, MODFLOW-OWHM, incorporates this dependency by linking subsidence and mesh deformation with changes in aquifer transmissivity and storage coefficient, and with flows that also depend on aquifer characteristics and land-surface geometry. This new deformation-dependent approach is being used for the further development of the integrated Central Valley hydrologic model (CVHM) in California. Preliminary results from this application and from hypothetical test cases of similar systems show that changes in canal flows, stream seepage, and evapotranspiration from groundwater (ETgw) are sensitive to deformation. Deformation feedback has been shown to also have an indirect effect on conjunctive surface- and groundwater use components with increased stream seepage and streamflows influencing surface-water deliveries and return flows. In the Central Valley model, land subsidence may significantly degrade the ability of the major canals to deliver surface water from the Delta to the San Joaquin and Tulare basins. Subsidence can also affect irrigation demand and ETgw, which, along with altered surface-water supplies, causes a feedback response resulting in changed estimates of groundwater pumping for irrigation. This modeling feature also may improve the impact assessment of dewatering-induced land subsidence/uplift (following irrigation pumping or coal-seam gas extraction) on surface receptors, inter-basin transfers, and surface infrastructure integrity.

Short summary
The effects of feedback onto the land surface and aquifers from mesh deformation with MF-OWHM flow terms were found to be significant when compared to simulations without the subsidence linkage. This linkage is needed for evaluating conjunctive use where the vertical displacements or differential displacements may affect the sources of water, the fractions of multiple sources of water, their use and movement across the landscape, performance of conveyance in canals and rivers, and aquifer flows.