Infiltration into fractured bedrock

Salve, Rohit and Ghezzehei, Teamrat A. and Jones, Robert

Water Resources Research, volume 44(1) , 2008.


One potential consequence of global climate change and rapid changes in land use is an increased risk of flooding. Proper understanding of floodwater infiltration thus becomes a crucial component of our preparedness to meet the environmental challenges of projected climate change. In this paper, we present the results of a long‐term infiltration experiment performed on fractured ash flow tuff. Water was released from a 3 × 4 m2 infiltration plot (divided into 12 square subplots) with a head of ∼0.04 m, over a period of ∼800 days. This experiment revealed peculiar infiltration patterns not amenable to current infiltration models, which were originally developed for infiltration into soils over a short duration. In particular, we observed that in part of the infiltration plot, the infiltration rate abruptly increased a few weeks into the infiltration tests. We suggest that these anomalies result from increases in fracture permeability during infiltration, which may be caused by swelling of clay fillings and/or erosion of infill debris. Interaction of the infiltration water with subsurface natural cavities (lithophysal cavities) could also contribute to such anomalies. This paper provides a conceptual model that partly describes the observed infiltration patterns in fractured rock and highlights some of the pitfalls associated with direct extension of soil infiltration models to fractured rock over a long period.


Cite as:

Salve, Rohit and Ghezzehei, Teamrat A. and Jones, Robert, Infiltration into fractured bedrock, Water Resources Research, 44(1) 2008.


  author = {Salve, Rohit and Ghezzehei, Teamrat A. and Jones, Robert},
  date-modified = {2018-05-27 20:04:15 +0000},
  doi = {10.1029/2006WR005701},
  journal = {Water Resources Research},
  status = {published},
  keywords = {Infiltration, fractures, rock},
  month = jan,
  number = {1},
  pdf = {},
  researchgate = {},
  title = {Infiltration into fractured bedrock},
  volume = {44},
  year = {2008},
  bdsk-url-1 = {},
  bdsk-url-2 = {},
  bdsk-url-3 = {}

Article Links


Infiltration, fractures, rock