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Interaction of various flow systems in small alpine catchments : conceptual model of the upper Gurk Valley aquifer, Carinthia, Austria
AuthorHilberg, Sylke ; Riepler, Franz
Published in
Hydrogeology Journal, Berlin, 2016, Vol. 24, Issue 5, page 1231-1244
PublishedSpringer, 2016
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)Alpine_valleys / Fractured_rocks / Flow_system_concept / Stable_isotopes / Austria
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-700 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
Interaction of various flow systems in small alpine catchments [1.8 mb]
Abstract (English)

Small alpine valleys usually show a heterogeneous hydraulic situation. Recurring landslides create temporal barriers for the surface runoff. As a result of these postglacial processes, temporal lakes form, and thus lacustrine fine-grained sedimentation intercalates with alluvial coarse-grained layers. A sequence of alluvial sediments (confined and thus well protected aquifers) and lacustrine sediments (aquitards) is characteristic for such an environment. The hydrogeological situation of fractured hard-rock aquifers in the framing mountain ranges is characterized by superficially high hydraulic conductivities as the result of tectonic processes, deglaciation and postglacial weathering. Fracture permeability and high hydraulic gradients in small-scaled alpine catchments result in the interaction of various flow systems in various kinds of aquifers. Spatial restrictions and conflicts between the current land use and the requirements of drinking-water protection represent a special challenge for water resource management in usually densely populated small alpine valleys. The presented case study describes hydrogeological investigations within the small alpine valley of the upper Gurktal (Upper Carinthia, Austria) and the adjacent Höllenberg Massif (1,772 m above sea level). Hydrogeological mapping, drilling, and hydrochemical and stable isotope analyses of springs and groundwater were conducted to identify a sustainable drinking-water supply for approximately 1,500 inhabitants. The results contribute to a conceptual hydrogeological model with three interacting flow systems. The local and the intermediate flow systems are assigned to the catchment of the Höllenberg Massif, whereas the regional flow system refers to the bordering Gurktal Alps to the north and provides an appropriate drinking water reservoir.

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