Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 573–583 | Cite as

Flash flood mitigation as a positive consequence of anthropogenic forcing on the groundwater resource in a karst catchment

  • Hervé JourdeEmail author
  • A. Lafare
  • N. Mazzilli
  • G. Belaud
  • L. Neppel
  • N. Dörfliger
  • F. Cernesson
Special Issue


The Mediterranean coastal region is prone to high-intensity rainfall events that are frequently associated with devastating flash floods. This paper discusses the role of a karst aquifer system in the flash floods of a Mediterranean river, the Lez river. Most of the Lez river watershed is located on karst terrains where interactions between surface water and groundwater take place. During extreme rainfall events, the presence of fractures and well-developed karst features in carbonate terrains enhances the infiltration processes and involves the concentration of the recharge into highly organized and permeable flow paths. The groundwater, therefore, quickly moves towards the natural outlets of the karst system. The influence of the Lez karst aquifer system on the associated river floods dynamics is analysed while considering the spatially distributed rainfall, as well as the time series of the groundwater level within the aquifer and of the Lez river discharge measured at various gauging stations. Special attention is given to the relative importance of the surface and underground processes involved in flash flood genesis. It is shown that the karst groundwater contributes to flash floods under certain conditions, while high-rate pumping within the karst aquifer, which generates significant drawdown, may mitigate flash floods under other conditions.


Karst/river interactions Flash flood mitigation Groundwater management Mediterranean river Extreme rainfall 



The authors thank the DREAL LR, Montpellier Agglomération/Veolia and Météo France for providing part of the hydro meteorological data feeding the data base of the MEDYCYSS observatory ( used for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hervé Jourde
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Lafare
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. Mazzilli
    • 1
    • 3
  • G. Belaud
    • 4
  • L. Neppel
    • 1
  • N. Dörfliger
    • 5
  • F. Cernesson
    • 6
  1. 1.Laboratoire Hydrosciences Montpellier, UMR 5569 CNRS-IRD-UM1-UM2Université Montpellier 2MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.British Geological SurveyNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Laboratoire EMMAH, UMR 1114 INRA-UAPVUniversité d’Avignon et des Pays de VaucluseAvignonFrance
  4. 4.Montpellier SupAgro, UMR G-eau AgroParisTech, CIHEAM-IAMM, Cirad, IRD, IRSTEASupAgro MontpellierMontpellier Cedex 1France
  5. 5.BRGMOrléansFrance
  6. 6.Agro Paris Tech, UMR Tetis AgroParisTech CIRAD IrsteaMontpellier Cedex 5France

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