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The recharge time of an aquifer may vary largely depending on the conditions, but it is normally

known that most aquifers may take up to several years to receive water from rainfalls. In this
assignment you will have to assess the recharge time of an aquifer.
The aquifer under examination is 100 m deep, where there is the water table
surface. The aquifer is made of a sandy soil with Csand = 95% and Cclay = 5%,
and is assumed to be uniform over the depth (see figure). Your assignment is

(Q1) Determine the aquifer recharge time after a precipitation event. To determine the recharge
time, you have to solve the equation of flow for an unsaturated soil (the Richards equation). The
recharge time is nothing but the time a water front takes to move from the soil surface to the
water table in practice, you are using water as a tracer over space (the depth) and time. Assume
the initial saturation over the vertical direction is uniform and equal to S(t = 0) = 0.6. As a
precipitation event, use an input of water of 50 mm/day lasting for some days (say 50 days) from
day 100; this will allow you to produce a sharp water front and see how this move down the soil
over time. It is not possible to anticipate a numerical grid for numerical solution, but a grid could
be made of 200 layers aligned vertically and indefinitely extended (it is a 1-D problem). In each
layer, solve the continuity and flow (Darcys) equations as in the Richards equation framework. It
is convenient to solve this problem in Matlab rather than Excel, where you can code the finite
difference integration method of the partial differential equation describing the water flow.
Produce a figure that shows the soil saturation profile over time and that allows you to detect the
saturation peak of the water front following the precipitation, hence the aquifer recharge time.
Indicate in your answer the time the water front reaches depth 10m, 20m, 50m, and 100m (this
last is the recharge time).
(tip: in Matlab, pcolor and contour commands allow easy representation of
data structured in three dimensional matrices. Note that a similar exercise
was proposed in Tutorial 8).

(Q2) Repeat your calculations as in (Q1) but assume the aquifer is made of a soil with Csand =
55% and Cclay = 5%. As for (Q1), produce a figure of the soil saturation profile over time and
indicate the time the water front reaches depth 10m, 20m, 50m, and 100m.
(Q3) Report on your calculation scheme (e.g., physical principles, maths
used, approach, grid, integration time, equivalent quantities such as
hydraulic conductivity used in your numerical scheme, etc.), and propose an
interpretation of your results in (Q1) and (Q2). You can elaborate on these
results highlighting differences, similarities, unexpected results, etc. In doing
so, you can make use of additional calculations if necessary to explain your
findings. Do not exceed 5 pages in total (i.e., including your answers to Q1,
Q2 and Q3)