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Remote sensing and GIS for mapping groundwater recharge and discharge areas in salinity prone catchments, southeastern Australia

Abstract

Identifying groundwater recharge and discharge areas across catchments is critical for implementing effective strategies for salinity mitigation, surface-water and groundwater resource management, and ecosystem protection. In this study, a synergistic approach has been developed, which applies a combination of remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) techniques to map groundwater recharge and discharge areas. This approach is applied to an unconfined basalt aquifer, in a salinity and drought prone region of southeastern Australia. The basalt aquifer covers ~11,500 km2 in an agriculturally intensive region. A review of local hydrogeological processes allowed a series of surface and subsurface indicators of groundwater recharge and discharge areas to be established. Various remote sensing and GIS techniques were then used to map these surface indicators including: terrain analysis, monitoring of vegetation activity, and mapping of infiltration capacity. All regions where groundwater is not discharging to the surface were considered potential recharge areas. This approach, applied systematically across a catchment, provides a framework for mapping recharge and discharge areas. A key component in assigning surface and subsurface indicators is the relevance to the dominant recharge and discharge processes occurring and the use of appropriate remote sensing and GIS techniques with the capacity to identify these processes.

Résumé

Sur un bassin versant, l’identification des zones d’alimentation et des aires d’émergence des eaux souterraines est capitale pour mettre en œuvre des stratégies de réduction de la salinité, de gestion des eaux souterraines et superficielles, et de protection des écosystèmes. Une approche synergique a été développée, sur la base de recherches existantes pour cartographier de manière systématique les zones de recharge et d'émergence. Elle combine des techniques de télédétection et de Systèmes d’Information Géographique, dans le but de cartographier les zones d’alimentation et d’émergence. Ces techniques ont été appliquées à un aquifère basaltique libre, dans un secteur sujet à la sécheresse et à la salinité du Sud-Est australien. L’aquifère considéré couvre environ 11,500 km2 d’une région essentiellement agricole. Un inventaire des processus hydrogéologiques locaux a conduit à l’établissement d’une série d’indicateurs superficiels et subsuperficiels des zones d’alimentation et d’émergence. Plusieurs méthodes de télédétection et de SIG furent alors utilisées pour cartographier ces indicateurs de surface, y compris les analyses de terrain, le suivi de l’activité de la végétation et la cartographie des capacités d’infiltration. Toutes les régions en dehors des zones d'émergence sont considérées commes des zones d'alimentation potentielles. Un des composants clés de l’attribution des indicateurs superficiels et subsuperficiels est la concordance avec les processus majeurs d’alimentation et de prélèvement entrant en jeu, et l’utilisation de méthodes de télédétection et SIG adaptées permettant d’identifier ces processus.

Resumen

La identificación de áreas de descarga y recarga de agua subterránea es crítica para la implementación de estrategias efectivas relacionadas con mitigación de salinidad, gestión de recursos de agua subterránea y agua superficial, y protección de ecosistemas. En este estudio se ha desarrollado un enfoque sinérgico apoyándose en investigación existente el cual aplica una combinación de técnicas de sistemas de información geográfico (SIG) y sensores remotos para cartografiar áreas de recarga y descarga de agua subterránea. Este enfoque se aplica a un acuífero de basalto no confinado en una región del sureste de Australia propensa a sequía y salinidad. El acuífero de basalto cubre aproximadamente 11,500 km2 en una región con agricultura intensiva. Una revisión de los procesos hidrogeológicos locales permitió el establecimiento de una serie de indicadores superficiales y subterráneos de áreas de recarga y descarga de agua subterránea. Luego se utilizaron varias técnicas de SIG y sensores remotos para cartografiar estos indicadores superficiales incluyendo: análisis del terreno, monitoreo de la actividad de la vegetación, y cartografiado de la capacidad de infiltración. Todas las regiones donde el agua subterránea no descarga en la superficie fueron consideradas áreas potenciales de recarga. Este enfoque que se ha aplicado sistemáticamente a través de la cuenca aporta un marco para la cartografía de áreas de recarga y descarga. Un componente clave en la asignación de indicadores superficiales y subterráneos lo constituye la relevancia a los procesos dominantes de recarga y descarga que ocurren y el uso de técnicas apropiadas de SIG y sensores remotos con la capacidad para identificar esos procesos.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Australian National Action Plan (NAP). The authors also wish to acknowledge input from researchers at Deakin (Frank Stagnitti and Daniel Ierodiaconou), La Trobe (Darren Bennetts and Matthias Raiber), Melbourne (Bernie Joyce), and Monash (Ray Cas) Universities, and the comments from the guest editor and reviewers.

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Correspondence to Sarah O. Tweed.

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Tweed, S.O., Leblanc, M., Webb, J.A. et al. Remote sensing and GIS for mapping groundwater recharge and discharge areas in salinity prone catchments, southeastern Australia. Hydrogeol J 15, 75–96 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-006-0129-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-006-0129-x

Keywords

  • Geographic information system
  • Satellite imagery
  • Terrain analysis
  • Groundwater recharge/discharge
  • Salinisation