Temporal and spatial response of hyporheic zone geochemistry to a storm event

Margaret A. Zimmer, Laura K. Lautz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Although there has been recent focus on understanding spatial variability in hyporheic zone geochemistry across different morphological units under baseflow conditions, less attention has been paid to temporal responses of hyporheic zone geochemistry to non-steady-state conditions. We documented spatial and temporal variability of hyporheic zone geochemistry in response to a large-scale storm event, Tropical Storm Irene (August 2011), across a pool-riffle-pool sequence along Chittenango Creek in Chittenango, NY, USA. We sampled stream water as well as pore water at 15cm depth in the streambed at 14 locations across a 30 m reach. Sampling occurred seven times at daily intervals: once during baseflow conditions, once during the rising limb of the storm hydrograph, and five times during the receding limb. Principal component analysis was used to interpret temporal and spatial changes and dominant drivers in stream and pore water geochemistry (n=111). Results show the majority of spatial variance in hyporheic geochemistry (62%) is driven by differential mixing of stream and ground water in the hyporheic zone. The second largest driver (17%) of hyporheic geochemistry was temporal dilution and enrichment of infiltrating stream water during the storm. Hyporheic sites minimally influenced by discharging groundwater ('connected' sites) showed temporal changes in water chemistry in response to the storm event. Connected sites within and upstream of the riffle reflected stream geochemistry throughout the storm, whereas downstream sites showed temporally lagged responses in some conservative and biogeochemically reactive solutes. This suggests temporal changes in hyporheic geochemistry at these locations reflect a combination of changes in infiltrating stream chemistry and hyporheic flowpath length and residence time. The portion of the study area strongly influenced by groundwater discharge increased in size throughout the storm, producing elevated Ca2+ and SO42- concentrations in the streambed, suggesting zones of localized groundwater inputs expand in response to storms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2324-2337
Number of pages14
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2014


  • Hyporheic zone
  • Principal component analysis
  • Storm event
  • Streambed
  • Surface water-groundwater interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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