Hayashi and van der Camp (2023) Canadian Contributions to Groundwater

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Masaki Hayashi & Garth van der Kamp (2023): The role of Canadian research in advancing groundwater hydrology: historical sketches from the past 75 years, Canadian Water Resources Journal / Revue canadienne des ressources hydriques, DOI: 10.1080/07011784.2023.2177197


Canadian hydrologists have played important roles in advancing the scientific understanding of groundwater flow in the hydrologic cycle. This article highlights some of the major episodes that made fundamental contributions to groundwater hydrology, rather than attempt a comprehensive review of all Canadian advances in groundwater research. The early years of groundwater research were driven by the need to find water supplies and to evaluate the capacity of wells and aquifers using the well hydraulics theories. The research focus shifted to the understanding of groundwater flow in drainage basins in the late 1950s and the 1960s through field observations using piezometer networks, rigorous mathematical analysis, and the development of numerical groundwater flow models. These researchers established a new conceptual framework and mathematical tools to describe groundwater flow systems in the context of topographic features and geological heterogeneity. In the 1970s, Canadian researchers made important contributions in establishing the new paradigm of hillslope hydrology by field observations and numerical modelling of storm runoff generation, development of tracer-based hydrograph separation techniques, and the demonstration of the role of the capillary fringe. The groundwater research group at the University of Waterloo pioneered contaminant hydrogeology research in the 1970s and 1980s, which generated new knowledge of groundwater flow and transport processes and developed increasingly sophisticated numerical models capable of simulating coupled surface and subsurface flow and transport. The scope of groundwater hydrology diversified in the 1990s onward including the interaction of surface water and groundwater as well as the interaction between hydrological and ecological systems. Climate-change impacts on groundwater are a major topic of current and future research. To address this and other challenging problems, it is important to establish and maintain long-term monitoring sites. The history has shown that the scientific advances presented in this article would have been impossible without high-quality field data.


groundwater ridging, isotope separation, storm runoff, groundwater model, climate change