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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-476
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Sep 2018

Research article | 27 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Assessing the perturbations of the hydrogeological regime in sloping fens through roads

Fabien Cochand1, Daniel Käser1, Philippe Grosvernier2, Daniel Hunkeler1, and Philip Brunner1 Fabien Cochand et al.
  • 1Centre of Hydrogeology and Geothermics, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • 2LIN'eco, ecological engineering , PO Box 51, 2732 Reconvilier, Switzerland

Abstract. Roads in sloping fens constitute a hydraulic barrier for surface and subsurface flow. This can lead to a drying out of downslope areas of the sloping fen as well as gully erosion. Different types of road construction have been proposed to limit the negative implications of the roads on flow dynamics. However, so far no systematic analysis of their effectiveness has been carried out. This study presents an assessment of the hydrogeological impact of three types of road structures in semi-alpine, sloping fens in Switzerland. Our analysis is based on a combination of field measurements and fully integrated, physically based modelling. In the field approach, the influence of the road was examined through tracer tests where the upslope of the road was sprinkled with a saline solution. The spatial distribution of electrical conductivity downslope provided a qualitative assessment of the flow paths and thus the implications of the road structures on subsurface flow. A quantitative albeit not site-specific assessment was carried out using numerical models simulating surface and subsurface flow in a fully coupled way. The different road types were implemented in the model and flow dynamics were simulated for a wide range of slopes and hydrogeological conditions such as different hydraulic conductivity of the soil. The results of the field and modelling analysis are coherent. Roads designed with an L-drain collecting water upslope and releasing it in a concentrated manner downslope constitute the largest perturbations. The other investigated road structures were found to have less impact. The developed methodologies and results are useful for the planning of future road projects.

Fabien Cochand et al.
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Short summary
Roads in sloping fens constitute a hydraulic barrier for surface and subsurface flow. This can lead to the drying out of downslope areas of the fen as well as gully erosion. By combining fieldwork and numerical models, this study presents an assessment of the hydrogeological impact of three road structures especially designed to limit their impact. The study shows that through appropriate engineering measures, the impact of roads on the hydrological regime in fens can be significantly reduced.
Roads in sloping fens constitute a hydraulic barrier for surface and subsurface flow. This can...
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