The proposed harvesting of previously undeveloped forests in north coastal British Columbia requires an understanding of hydrological responses. Hydrometric and isotopic techniques were used to examine the hydrological linkages between meteoric inputs to the surface-groundwater system and runoff response patterns of a forest-peatland complex. Quickflow accounted for 72-91% of peak storm discharge. The runoff ratio was lowest for open peatland areas with thick organic horizons (0.02-0.05) due to low topographic gradients and many surface depressions capable of retaining surface water. Runoff ratio increased comparatively for ephemeral surface seep flows (0.06-0.40) and was greatest in steeply sloping forest communities with more permeable soils (0.33-0.69). The dominant mechanism for runoff generation was saturated shallow subsurface flow. Groundwater fluxes from the organic horizon of seeps (1·70-1·72 m3 day-1 m-1) were an important component of quickflow. The homogeneous δ2H-δ18O composition of groundwater indicated attenuation of the seasonal rainfall signal by mixing during recharge. The positive correlation (r2 = 0·64 and 0·38, α = 0·05) between slope index and δ18O values in groundwater suggests that the spatial pattern in the δ18O composition along the forest-peatland complex is influenced by topography and provides evidence that topographic indices may be used to predict groundwater residence time.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology