Simulating the impact of glaciations on continental groundwater flow systems: 1. Relevant processes and model formulation

Lemieux, J.M. and Sudicky, E.A. and Peltier, W.R. and Tarasov, L. (2008) Simulating the impact of glaciations on continental groundwater flow systems: 1. Relevant processes and model formulation. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113 (3). pp. 1-12. ISSN 2156-2202

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Abstract

In the recent literature, it has been shown that Pleistocene glaciations had a large impact on North American regional groundwater flow systems. Because of the myriad of complex processes and large spatial scales involved during periods of glaciation, numerical models have become powerful tools to examine how ice sheets control subsurface flow systems. In this paper, the key processes that must be represented in a continental-scale 3-D numerical model of groundwater flow during a glaciation are reviewed, including subglacial infiltration, density-dependent (i.e., high-salinity) groundwater flow, permafrost evolution, isostasy, sea level changes, and ice sheet loading. One-dimensional hydromechanical coupling associated with ice loading and brine generation were included in the numerical model HydroGeoSphere and tested against newly developed exact analytical solutions to verify their implementation. Other processes such as subglacial infiltration, permafrost evolution, and isostasy were explicitly added to HydroGeoSphere. A specified flux constrained by the ice sheet thickness was found to be the most appropriate boundary condition in the subglacial environment. For the permafrost, frozen and unfrozen elements can be selected at every time step with specified hydraulic conductivities. For the isostatic adjustment, the elevations of all the grid nodes in each vertical grid column below the ice sheet are adjusted uniformly to account for the Earth's crust depression and rebound. In a companion paper, the model is applied to the Wisconsinian glaciation over the Canadian landscape in order to illustrate the concepts developed in this paper and to better understand the impact of glaciation on 3-D continental groundwater flow systems.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/502
Item ID: 502
Keywords: glaciation; groundwater flow; hydraulic conductivity; ice sheet; numerical model; permafrost; Pleistocene; simulation; subglacial environment; subsurface flow
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Physics and Physical Oceanography
Date: 24 September 2008
Date Type: Publication

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