A comparison of methods to estimate vertical groundwater flux through overburden materials in Prince Edward Island

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University of New Brunswick


This field study in central Prince Edward Island, where groundwater plays a crucial role in surface water ecosystems, compares three methods for estimating vertical groundwater flux through silty sand overburden. These methods include differential stream discharge, Darcy-based flux, and vertical temperature profiles, with field data collected using various tools near a spring-fed brook. The differential stream discharge method exhibited the largest uncertainty and lowest confidence. The Darcy-based method indicated a consistent spatial pattern in groundwater flux direction, with relatively small uncertainty ranges, possibly influenced by systematic bias errors in vertical hydraulic conductivity (kz) determination. The vertical temperature profile method emerged as the most suitable for estimating flux through the overburden unit. While the Darcy-based and vertical temperature profile results displayed reasonable correlation, the Darcy-based flux estimates were roughly 2.3 times smaller. This discrepancy is likely attributable to potential systematic bias errors in the determination of kz.