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A strategic programme for NERC Lowland catchment research
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Hydrogeophysical characterisation of the riparian zone in Chalk catchments: summary

A fuller description of this project is also available.

Overview of project

This project studied groundwater-surface water interaction in the Pang and Lambourn catchments using a series of catchment- and reach-scale measurements of stream flow, stream and groundwater chemistry. These were combined with detailed geophysical surveys at specific sites. Additional work was also conducted along a reach of the River Tern at one of the LOCAR infrastructure sites.

Previous studies have suggested that the assumption of uniformly increasing flow accretion in Chalk catchments is untrue. This study has provided a finer spatial and temporal resolution of stream flow monitoring and water chemistry analysis in order to improve the description of surface-groundwater interaction and flow accretion within these catchments.


This study aimed to enhance the knowledge of the cause and nature of hydraulic interaction between stream and aquifer in the riparian zone of the study catchments. A major objective was the development of a practical methodology for wide-scale application in water resource management in lowland catchments.

Main findings and outputs

  • Identified controls on groundwater-surface water interactions, in particular dry valleys in the Lambourn catchment and karstic features in the lower Pang catchment.
  • Demonstrated the value of hydrogeophysical surveys for improved hydrostratigraphic mapping within the riparian zone and measurement of changes in pore fluid chemistry in near surface sediments.
  • Developed a new technique which uses temperature time series from river bed piezometers to compute estimates of groundwater contaminant influxes.  More about the main findings of this project

Description of activities

  • Measurements of river flow, streamwater chemistry and borehole water chemistry
  • Stream flow monitoring and water chemistry analysis
  • Hydrogeophysical surveys
  • Development and application of natural tracers (eg carbon dioxide and radon) to identify and characterise groundwater-surface water interaction.

Areas of application

The Environment Agency are using the results of the project in a range of areas, for example, to improve rating curves (the relationship between flow velocity and cross-sectional area of the stream) for weirs within the catchments studied, and to assist with river abstraction licences.

The data from the Tern field site has provided a significant input into the Environment Agency's Hyporheic Zone Research Programme

Related and future work

The Environment Agency funded an extension of the research into the Tern catchment.

Researchers' details

Principal Investigator:


More researchers who worked on this project More researchers who worked on this project


All publications from this and other LOCAR projects are listed in the publications database.

Selected publications from this project are listed below. The full list of publications and recommended reading can be viewed in the full description page for this project Full publication list for this project

Selected publications

Griffiths, J., Binley, A., Crook, N., Nutter, J., Young, A. and Fletcher, S. 2006. Streamflow generation in the Pang and Lambourn catchments, Berkshire, UK, Journal of Hydrology (in press).

Jarvie, H.P, C. Neal, M. D. Jürgens, E. J. Sutton, M. Neal, H. D. Wickham, L. K. Hill, S. A. Harman, J. J. L. Davies, A. Warwick, C. Barrett, J. Griffiths, A. Binley, N. Swannack and N. McIntyre, 2006, Within-river nutrient processing in the Pang and Lambourn Chalk streams, UK. Journal of Hydrology (in press).

Mullinger, N.J., A.Binley, J.M. Pates and N. Crook, 2006, Spatial and temporal variation of groundwater sources in the Pang and Lambourn catchments, UK. (submitted to Journal of Hydrology).

Full list of publications resulting from this project Full publication list for this project

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