Hydrogeology Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 464–475 | Cite as

Dual-porosity modeling of groundwater recharge: testing a quick calibration using in situ moisture measurements, Areuse River Delta, Switzerland

  • Abdallah AlaouiEmail author
  • Werner Eugster
Technical Note


A simple method for calibrating the dual-porosity MACRO model via in situ TDR measurements during a brief infiltration run (2.8 h) is proposed with the aim of estimating local groundwater recharge (GR). The recharge was modeled firstly by considering the entire 3 m of unsaturated soil, and secondly by considering only the topsoil to the zero-flux plane (0–0.70 m). The modeled recharge was compared against the GR obtained from field measurements. Measured GR was 313 mm during a 1-year period (15 October 1990–15 October 1991). The best simulation results were obtained when considering the entire unsaturated soil under equilibrium conditions excluding the macropore flow effect (330 mm), whereas under non-equilibrium conditions GR was overestimated (378 mm).

Sensitivity analyses showed that the investigation of the topsoil is sufficient in estimating local GR in this case, since the water stored below this depth appears to be below the typical rooting depth of the vegetation and is not available for evapotranspiration. The modeled recharge under equilibrium conditions for the 0.7-m-topsoil layer was found to be 364 mm, which is in acceptable agreement with measurements.


Groundwater recharge Dual-porosity modeling Unsaturated zone Porous media Neuchâtel Switzerland 


Une méthode simple pour la calibration du modèle à double porosité MACRO par des mesures TDR in situ durant un bref essai d'infiltration (2.8 h) a été proposée pour l'estimation locale de la recharge de la nappe (RN). La RN a été d'abord simulée en tenant compte de toute la zone non saturée (3 m) et ensuite, en considérant uniquement la couverture du sol entre zéro et le plan du flux nul (0.70 m). La RN simulée a été comparée à la RN observée. La RN mesurée durant une année (15 octobre 1990–15 octobre 1991) était de 313 mm. Les meilleures simulations ont été obtenues en tenant compte de toute la zone non saturée sous les conditions d'équilibre excluant le flux préférentiel (330 mm). Sous les conditions de non équilibre, la RN a été surestimée (378 mm).

Les analyses de sensitivité ont montré que l'investigation de la couverture du sol est suffisante pour l'estimation locale de la RN du fait que l'eau traversant le plan du flux nul se trouverait sous la zone des racines et échapperait à l'évapotranspiration. La RN simulée sur les 0.70 m du sol sous les conditions d'équilibre était de 364 mm, ce qui est comparable aux mesures.


Se propone un método sencillo para calibrar el modelo de doble porosidad "MACRO" mediante medidas in-situ obtenidas por TDR durante un breve ensayo de infiltración (2,8 horas), con el objetivo de estimar la recarga local al acuífero. Ésta ha sido modelada de dos formas: considerando los 3 m de suelo no saturado y empleando sólo desde la capa superior hasta el plano de flujo nulo (de 0 a 0,70 m). Se compara la recarga modelada con la recarga local medida en campo, la cual fue de 313 mm durante un ciclo anual (del 15 de octubre de 1990 al 15 de octubre de 1991). Las mejores simulaciones corresponden a la hipótesis de columna entera no saturada en condiciones de equilibrio, excluyendo el efecto de macroporos (valor de 330 mm), mientras que el resultado obtenido para condiciones de no equilibrio en la recarga local está sobreestimado (378 mm).

Los análisis de sensibilidad muestran que la investigación del horizonte superior del suelo es suficiente para estimar la recarga local en este caso, ya que el agua almacenada por debajo de esta profundidad parece estar fuera del alcance típico de las raíces de la vegetación y no puede ser evapotranspirada. La recarga modelada en condiciones de equilibrio para la capa superior de 0,70 m de espesor es de 364 mm, valor aceptable respecto a las medidas.



This study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, grant No. 21-36281.92. Werner Eugster received support from a Hans Sigrist Fellowship from the University of Bern. The first author would like to thank Nick Jarvis (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden) for his advice on modeling. The efforts of two anonymous reviewers helped to more clearly present our study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Soil Science Section, Department of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Climatology and Meteorology Research Group, Department of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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