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Journal of Hydrology (2006) 330, 604 620

available at www.sciencedirect.com

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jhydrol

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall


and implications for recharge pathways in the
Chalk aquifer, SE England
L.J.E. Lee, D.S.L. Lawrence *, M. Price

School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, P.O. Box 227, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AB, UK
Received 27 May 2005; received in revised form 10 April 2006; accepted 17 April 2006

KEYWORDS

Summary Water table response to rainfall was investigated at six sites in the Upper, Middle
and Lower Chalk of southern England. Daily time series of rainfall and borehole water level
were cross-correlated to investigate seasonal variations in groundwater-level response times,
based on periods of 3-month duration. The time lags (in days) yielding significant correlations
were compared with the average unsaturated zone thickness during each 3-month period. In
general, for cases when the unsaturated zone was greater than 18 m thick, the time lag for a
significant water-level response increased rapidly once the depth to the water table exceeded
a critical value, which varied from site to site. For shallower water tables, a linear relationship
between the depth to the water table and the water-level response time was evident. The
observed variations in response time can only be partially accounted for using a diffusive model
for propagation through the unsaturated matrix, suggesting that some fissure flow was occurring. The majority of rapid responses were observed during the winter/spring recharge period,
when the unsaturated zone is thinnest and the unsaturated zone moisture content is highest,
and were more likely to occur when the rainfall intensity exceeded 5 mm/day. At some sites,
a very rapid response within 24 h of rainfall was observed in addition to the longer term
responses even when the unsaturated zone was up to 64 m thick. This response was generally
associated with the autumn period. The results of the cross-correlation analysis provide statistical support for the presence of fissure flow and for the contribution of multiple pathways
through the unsaturated zone to groundwater recharge.
c 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Groundwater flow;
Aquifer recharge;
Cross-correlation analysis;
Chalk aquifer;
Water resources

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 118 3786350; fax: +44 118


9755865.
E-mail address: d.s.lawrence@reading.ac.uk (D.S.L. Lawrence).
1
Present address: Water Management Consultants, 23 Swan Hill,
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 1NN, UK.

Introduction
The timing and quantity of recharge reaching the water table has significant consequences for water resources and for

0022-1694/$ - see front matter c 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.04.025

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer
the movement of pollutants into groundwater. The combination of low hydraulic gradients and large variations in
Chalk topography can create an unsaturated zone more than
100 m thick in interfluve areas. These thicknesses can produce significant time delays to and attenuation of recharge
resulting from rainfall, although the magnitude of these effects is poorly understood and not well quantified. This is, in
part, due to the complexity of unsaturated flow in fissured
dual-porosity systems such as the Chalk (Price, 1987) and
to the relative difficulty of monitoring the matric potential
and water content throughout the thickness of the unsaturated zone. However, another major limitation is the paucity of water-level data sampled at sufficient frequency to
fully detect response to rainfall. Historically, groundwater
levels have only been routinely recorded on a monthly basis
within the UK, such that short-term responses of small magnitude are neglected and only the broadest annual trends in
seasonal water levels are characterised (e.g., Headworth,
1972). The work presented here takes advantage of recently
available data for selected boreholes within the Chalk
where water levels are recorded on a 6-h to daily basis,
allowing the daily response to rainfall inputs to be evaluated. These data are used to analyse statistically the time
lags associated with borehole water-level response to rainfall using cross-correlation analysis. The time lags are further evaluated relative to the thickness of the unsaturated
zone associated with each response time at each site.
Although the results only establish correlations between
time series patterns and do not in isolation identify recharge
pathways, the response times identified by the analysis may
be interpreted in light of previous field, laboratory and theoretical investigations of recharge mechanisms in the Chalk.
The Chalk is the most significant aquifer in the UK, providing 15% of the national water supply and 35% of supplies
in the southeast of England. It consists of a soft, fractured
limestone with a matric porosity of 2540%, but a low matric permeability, typically of the order of 0.110 millidarcys
(about 16 mm/day) (Price et al., 1976). The fractures are
of highly variable length and aperture and contribute only
0.1% to 1% to the total porosity, although they significantly
enhance aquifer permeability (Price et al., 1982). The relative importance of matric flow and fissure flow during the
recharge process is not fully understood, although a range
of geochemical and geophysical experiments and modelling
studies have been previously undertaken. The most important of these are reviewed in the following sections and provide the physical context and basis for the interpretation of
the cross-correlation results presented here.

Previous work
Recharge pathways and timing
Recharge pathways and rates of movement through the
unsaturated zone of the Chalk have been considered using
geochemical, isotopic and physical techniques. Smith
et al. (1970) measured the natural tritium concentration
in groundwater at various depths in a vertical profile of
the Upper Chalk. The pattern of the tritium profile in the
matrix corresponded well with the pattern of tritium concentration in rainfall since its introduction in the 1950s, sug-

605

gesting that the majority of recharge moved through the


Chalk matrix. However, tritium was also detected well below the depth predicted by assuming matric flow alone.
Smith et al. (1970) concluded that flow in the Chalk was
dominated by matric seepage, but that approximately 15%
of the recharge had bypassed the matrix in fissures. Wellings
(1984b) estimated the rate of movement through the unsaturated zone as 1 m/yr based on deuterium as a tracer in
the Upper Chalk (Hampshire), also demonstrating that nitrate and chloride moved through this zone at similar rates.
This flux rate is also supported by the cyclic variations in
water isotope ratios with depth found at the same site by
Wellings and Bell (1980). Gardner et al. (1990) found a similar rate of 0.8 m/yr for the Upper Chalk (Berkshire), also
based on deuterium.
Price et al. (2000) predicted that, in a uniform Chalk profile receiving steady recharge, fissure flow would be more
likely to be initiated near the water table, where pore suctions are lower, than higher up the unsaturated zone in the
vicinity of the ground surface. This prediction was partly
confirmed by more recent geochemical work (Johnson
et al., 2001), showing that recharge delivery by fissure flow
can be significant when the water table is shallow. Johnson
et al. studied soil samples, shallow cores and groundwater
quality on a weekly basis at an Upper Chalk site in Hampshire and found that peaks in isoproturon and chlorotoluron
concentrations during the winter recharge period could be
detected in groundwater samples where the water table
was within 45 m of the ground surface. However, if the
water table was deeper (920 m below the surface), little
or no herbicide was detected; this can be interpreted as
implying that low suctions, and hence fissure flow, could
not extend from this depth to the soil zone.
Field experiments using soil physical methods have provided further insight into the relative contributions of matric and fissure flow in the Chalk. Wellings and Bell (1982),
Wellings (1984a,b), Gardner et al. (1990) and Cooper
et al. (1990) monitored soil suction (pressure potential)
and water content at several sites on the Upper and Middle
Chalk in the UK at frequencies of up to twice weekly. The
relationship between hydraulic conductivity and pressure
potential was also determined at four of the sites. In general, hydraulic conductivity rose rapidly (>10 mm/day)
when the pressure was above 5 kPa (0.5 m suction head)
reaching a maximum value of over 100 mm/day. Below
5 kPa, the conductivity was 16 mm/day and changed
very little as pressure potential decreased. The large increase in hydraulic conductivity at water potentials greater
than 5 kPa is interpreted as resulting from fissure flow.
The near constant value of hydraulic conductivity when
the pore pressure drops below 5 kPa corresponds to flow
in the matrix, with no drainage of matric pore space occurring at the pore-water suctions involved so that the hydraulic conductivity remains unchanged (Price, 1987). The
relationship between volumetric water content and matric
potential was also investigated in the field experiments.
As pressure fell from 5 to 70 kPa the Chalk water content
showed a negligible decrease below 1 m depth, supporting
the hypothesis of a non-draining matrix (Gardner et al.,
1990).
The frequency of fissure flow appears to vary widely between sites with different lithologies. At Fleam Dyke on the

606
Cambridgeshire Middle Chalk, fissure flow was observed to
occur at pore pressures greater than 5 kPa in the winter
months (Jones and Cooper, 1998). Lysimeter and soil water
observations indicate that approximately 30% of flow occurred through fissures throughout the year, and that during
the winter months (when no soil moisture deficit was present) 50% of flow occurred through fissures. In contrast, at
Bridgets Farm in the Upper Chalk of Hampshire, the pore
pressure exceeded 5 kPa on only one occasion during the
winter, suggesting that fissure flow rarely occurs (Wellings,
1984a). The Upper Chalk generally has a much higher matric
permeability than the Middle Chalk. However, measurements were generally made only weekly, so short periods
of fissure flow could easily have been missed.
In a more recent study, rapid response to rainfall in the
soil zone (i.e., the upper few metres of the unsaturated
zone) was observed by Hassan and Gregory (2002). They
investigated the relationship between rainfall and halfhourly measurements of soil water content and matric potential based on a core sample from the Hampshire Upper
Chalk. Most hydraulic changes in the soil zone were observed a few hours after rainfall had started. During wet
periods, increases in water content following rainfall were
seen at a depth of 1 m after only 3 h, suggesting that bypass
flow had occurred. Comparison with weekly measurements
of soil water and matric potential revealed that lower frequency measurements did not detect these responses.
Hourly water potentials, at a depth of up to 3 m, were
monitored by Haria et al. (2003) at two sites in the Upper
Chalk in Hampshire. The monitoring sites were on an interfluve where the water table has a depth of 18 m and in a dry
valley where the water table is within 4 m of the surface.
They found evidence for both rapid preferential flow and
matric flow in the dry valley site, but found evidence for
matric flow alone in the interfluve site. This difference
was attributed to the capillary fringe sustaining a higher
moisture content in the unsaturated zone at the shallow
groundwater site. However, as the water-potential investigations did not extend through the full depth of the interfluve unsaturated zone, the possibility that fissure flow is
initiated beneath the interfluve at greater depth (i.e.,
nearer to the water table, as suggested by Price et al.
(2000)) cannot be discounted.
Evidence for substantial fissure flow in the Chalk also
comes from observations of bacterial contamination of
Chalk aquifers after heavy rainfall (Downing et al., 1979).
Foster (1975) sought to explain the tritium concentration
profile observed by Smith et al. (1970) as a result of diffusion processes between fissure and matrix. He assumed that
recharge to the Chalk occurred predominantly through fissures and suggested that maximum diffusion into the matrix
(corresponding to observed peaks in tritium concentration)
would occur at any level where fluid movement was retarded by lower hydraulic conductivity values and smaller
fissure apertures. Reeves (1979) also supported the dominance of fissure flow over matric flow in the Chalk, suggesting that the majority of flow occurs through microfissures
(120 lm aperture) in the unsaturated zone and through
macrofissures (210 mm aperture) in the saturated zone.
He suggested that over 8090% of infiltration would occur
at rates of less than 1 mm/day, so that the microfissure system will be saturated for most of the year and macrofissure

L.J.E. Lee et al.


systems will become active only when infiltration exceeds
the ability of microfissures to transmit available water.
However, Reeves was unable to produce any direct physical
evidence for the existence of microfissures.
Aperture size and the rate of effective rainfall should
control the flow of water in fissures (Price et al., 1993).
The air-entry pressure for the matrix is very high and
the matric pores are normally filled with water close to
ground level. Since the maximum possible vertical hydraulic gradient in the unsaturated zone is less than unity, if
the rate of effective rainfall supply to the ground surface
is greater than the hydraulic conductivity of the matrix,
then the fissures will become saturated and will conduct
water.
More recent studies of fluid flow in fissures suggest that
flow may not be controlled by the size of the fissure aperture alone. Tokunaga and Wan (1997) investigated film
flow on the surfaces of fractures in a block of Bishop Tuff
over a range of near-zero matric potentials, i.e., when the
matrix of the block was saturated. The block had a matric
porosity of 33% and a saturated hydraulic conductivity of
about 0.003 m/day, similar to the properties of chalk.
Average velocities of the water film were 240 m/day or
103 times greater than matric flow under a unit gradient
when matric suctions were below about 250 Pa (25 mm).
The high velocities suggest that film flow could be a principal factor contributing to fast flow in unsaturated Chalk
fractures. However, suctions as low as 25 mm are rarely
observed in the unsaturated Chalk (Price et al., 2000),
and if they occurred, fully saturated fissure flow would
take place. Price et al. (2000) carried out laboratory
experiments using acoustic techniques and resin impregnation methods to investigate whether microfissures and
macropores are present within Chalk blocks and serve as
possible sites for short-term water storage. Results indicated that microfissures are absent, and although macropores are present, they would not drain under normal
suctions. The findings also suggest that drainage occurs
through fissure walls and that the irregular surfaces of
the fissures provide extra storage previously noted in Chalk
catchment water balance studies (e.g., Lewis et al., 1993).
Tokunaga and Wan (2001) subsequently derived a similar
mechanism for the initiation of fissure flow to that proposed by Price et al. (2000).
In summary, the present evidence seems to suggest that:
matric flow is the normal mode of recharge through the
unsaturated zone of much of the Chalk aquifer in
England;
reasonably rapid response of the water table can occur
when matric flow is occurring, as a result of the piston
displacement process;
fissure flow will be initiated at those times and in those
areas and depths of the unsaturated zone when and
where the pore-water suction falls to a level where narrower fissures can fill with water (suction typically
around 0.5 m of water). This will happen, in essence,
when the recharge rate locally approaches or exceeds
the hydraulic conductivity of the matrix, so that the
matrix is unable to conduct water at a sufficiently high
rate without the hydraulic gradient approaching unity
(Price et al., 1993, 2000)

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer
interpretation of isotopic and geochemical data is complicated by the potential for molecular diffusion between
matric pore water and water in fissures.

Recharge estimation based on field hydrograph


data
Rushton and Ward (1979) proposed a method for estimating
recharge that has been widely adopted in Chalk groundwater modelling. This method permits recharge to occur even
in periods of soil moisture deficit, in line with field observations from lysimeters and observation boreholes (Headworth, 1972). They modelled Chalk recharge by calibrating
the percentage of effective and actual precipitation that
entered the aquifer to match observed field hydrographs.
They concluded that a by-pass flow of 15% of the actual precipitation (>5 mm/day) plus 15% of the effective precipitation provided the best fit.
A few previous investigations of delay in the unsaturated zone have compared rainfall and groundwater-level
response time series. Calver (1997), when studying the
Rhee and Cam Chalk catchments in southern England,
found the recharge pulse to be distributed over a number
of months, with the most significant response occurring in
the first month of effective rainfall input. Studies by
Oakes (1981), using a transfer function to model unsaturated zone behaviour, also showed that at the majority
of sites the greatest correlation occurred at a time lag
of 1 month. These studies relied on monthly or weekly
groundwater-level records. Studies using more frequent
data have shown more rapid water-level responses. Headworth (1972) examined Chalk well recorder charts from
Hampshire in the 1960s to detect water-level responses
to rainfall. He found that wells with deep water tables
(>80 m) have the longest response interval (1522 days)
and shallow wells (<10 m) have response intervals of only
a few days. The work presented here also considers
groundwater-level response to rainfall based on daily
data, which are evaluated using a time series cross-correlation analysis to detect response time. Several sites are
considered throughout the Chalk to determine whether a
general relationship between water-table depth and response time can be developed. The trends are evaluated

607

using a matric diffusion model to highlight those times


when fissure flow must be contributing to the observed
response, as it is too rapid to be accounted for by matric
diffusion alone.

Study sites
This study focused on sites in the Chalk of southern England
(Fig. 1) where daily, and in some cases 6-h, observations of
groundwater levels were available. The sites cover a large
area of the Chalk geographically and sample a range of different Chalk lithologies. Water-level response to rainfall
was investigated at six sites where the Chalk is unconfined
and extends to the ground surface. A summary of the borehole site locations, the rain gauges associated with each
borehole and the length of the available time series is given
in Table 1 and further site details are provided in the following paragraphs. Fig. 2 shows part of the records of rainfall
and groundwater level at three of the sites, highlighting
the similarities and differences in the responses observed
over the study period.
The Preston Candover site is located in the Candover
catchment in Hampshire and is approximately 5 km upstream from the perennial head of the Candover Stream.
Detailed investigations of this catchment were carried out
in the 1970s and revealed the existence of a thin highly
transmissive zone, with a high specific yield, near the
water table (Headworth et al., 1982; Keating, 1982).
Keating (1982) was able to reproduce the hydrological
behaviour of the Candover catchment using a lumped
parameter model which incorporates variable transmissivity and storativity with depth. Giles and Lowings (1990)
report a transmissivity (T) generally between 1000 and
5000 m2/day in this catchment, with a typical value of
10003000 m2/day. Groundwater-level fluctuations increase away from river valleys, where T is lower. Upstream of the borehole location, some areas exist with
anomalously small fluctuations in groundwater level,
which are thought to coincide with low-permeability horizons in the Chalk. Headworth (1972) estimated a response interval (i.e., the time lag between the
occurrence of rain and the rise in water level) of between
4 and 5 days for a shallow well at Preston Candover, near
the borehole (drilled in 1975) used in this study.

Figure 1 Location of study sites in southeast England relative to surface exposure of the Chalk: (1) Preston Candover, (2)
Broadhalfpenny Down, (3) Chilgrove, (4) Houndean, (5) Wolverton, (6) Ogbourne.

608

Table 1

Details of study sites

Borehole grid reference

Rain gauge grid


reference

Chalk lithology

Ground surface
elevation
(m AOD)

Monitoring perioda

Dominant
landuse

Depth to average
water table (m)

Average water
level fluctuation
(m)b

1. Preston Candover,
Hampshire
SU60714186
2. Broadhalfpenny
Down, Hampshire
SU67671663
3. Chilgrove, Sussex
SU83501440

Preston Candover
SU60764221 @
0.35 km
Cowplain
SU69101140 @
5.42 km
Walderton
SU78611034 @
6.35 km
Housedean
TQ36900930 @
2.56 km
Temple Ewell
TR28404430 @
2.12 km
Ogbourne St.
George
SU19107620 @
0.72 km

Seaford Chalk
(Upper Chalk)

100.20

March 00August 02
n = 914

Rural
development

3.42

Seaford Chalk
(Upper Chalk)

116.50

March 00August 02
n = 914

Arable

66.61

34

Seaford & Lewes


Chalk (Upper/
Middle Chalk)
Upper/Middle
Chalk

77.18

March 00January 02
n = 686

Rough grazing

22.71

26

40.01

March 00August 02
n = 914

Arable

26.52

15

Middle Chalk

47.09

December 95August
02 n = 2349

Grazing/rural
development

9.74

Lower Chalk

156.00

September 91
November 94 n = 996

Grass/linseed/
wheat

15.72

14.5

4. Houndean, Sussex
TQ39301020
5. Wolverton, Kent
TR26804290
6. Ogbourne, Berkshire
SU18427646

n, number of data points.


a
Daily data.
b
Calculated peak to trough for monitoring period only.

L.J.E. Lee et al.

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer
60

100
90
80
70

40

60
50

30

40
20

30
20

10

Groundwater level (m AOD)

Rainfall
Groundwater level

50

Rainfall (mm)

609

10
0
Jan-00 Apr-00 Jun-00 Sep-00 Dec-00 Mar-01 Jun-01 Sep-01 Dec-01 Mar-02 Jun-02

90

90

80

80

70

Rainfall (mm)

70

60

60
50
50
40
40
30

30

20

20

10

10
0
Feb-00

Groundwater level (m AOD)

Date
100

0
May-00

Aug-00

Nov-00

Feb-01

May-01

Aug-01

Nov-01

Date
120

40

110

Rainfall (mm)

90

30

80
70
60

20

50
40
30

10

Groundwater level (m AOD)

100

20
10
0
Jan-00 Apr-00 Jun-00 Sep-00 Dec-00 Mar-01 Jun-01 Sep-01 Dec-01 Mar-02 Jun-02

Date

Figure 2

Rainfall and groundwater-level data for Broadhalfpenny Down (top), Chilgrove (middle) and Houndean (bottom).

Broadhalfpenny Down is located above a dry valley near


the crest of the South Downs. It is an interfluve site and is
approximately 10 km from the headwaters of the Wallington
River which rises from springs at the boundary between the
Chalk and Tertiary clays. The Broadhalfpenny Down borehole is situated on a grass verge between the main road
and arable land.

The Houndean borehole is located in the Brighton Chalk


block, approximately 2.4 km from the River Ouse. Studies
of the Brighton Block have shown transmissivity values ranging from 50 m2/day to 2000 m2/day and a storage coefficient of approximately 0.01 (Robins et al., 2001). Pumping
tests in the Winterbourne Valley at Houndean Farm close
to the Houndean borehole indicate transmissivity values

610

L.J.E. Lee et al.


16.2

12

16
10

Water level
15.8

8
15.6
15.4

15.2
4

Water level (m)

Rainfall (mm/day)

Rainfall

15
2
14.8
0

14.6
1

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Days
0.5

0.4

Significance
level

Correlation

0.3

0.2

0.1

-0.1

-0.2
1

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Days

Figure 3 Example of cross-correlation results (bottom) for synthetic rainfall and water-level response to one rainfall event (top).
p
The significance level for correlations between the two data sets is determined by the length of the data series as 2/ N, where N is
the number of values.

greater than 1000 m2/day (Sussex River Authority, 1974).


The Houndean site is in a dry valley approximately 2 m from
an unsurfaced track. The land use is mainly arable, with
some deciduous woodland in the valley. Some lateral flow
may occur from surrounding hills towards the borehole at
this site.
The Chilgrove borehole is situated in a dry valley connected to the River Lavant. The borehole occasionally overflows and the bourne very occasionally as in 1994 and 2000
rises as high up the valley as Chilgrove. Water level data
from Chilgrove have been interpreted by Allen et al. (1997)
as showing various mechanisms for storage in the Chalk. For
example, a period of heavy rainfall during 19891990 (following a severe episode of drought) caused a sharp increase
in water levels in the well, followed by an equally rapid decline. Allen et al. (1997) suggest that this type of response
to recharge would be expected if only the large fractures
had been replenished and subsequently drained during the
recharge period.
The Ogbourne borehole lies about 2 km to the north-west
of the source of the River Og in the Lower Chalk. The River

Og lies in the Kennet Catchment, which has transmissivity


values ranging from 50 to 2000 m2/day; the lower values
correspond to interfluves and the highest to dry valleys (Allen et al., 1997). Owen and Robinson (1978) note that transmissivity also varies with depth, with most large fractures
and the highest transmissivity being located in the upper
60 m of the aquifer below ground level. A pumping station
at Ogbourne St. George is approximately 750 m from the
borehole.
The Wolverton borehole is situated in a flat grassy paddock on the side of a winterbourne valley. A winterbourne
stream which is tributary to the River Dour occasionally
flows along the valley floor approximately 25 m from the
site. Deciduous trees separate the paddock from a main
road approximately 100 m further up the valley.
Rainfall and water-level data for Chilgrove, Preston Candover, Houndean and Broadhalfpenny Down were available
for the 2-year period January 2000 to August 2002. Records
for Ogbourne were available for September 1991 to May
1995 and for Wolverton from December 1995 to August
2002. Water-level data were obtained from borehole loggers

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer

611

0.8

0.6

Significance Level

Correlation

0.4

0.2

-0.2

-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

32

34

36

Time lag (days)


0.8

0.6

Significance Level
Correlation

0.4

0.2

-0.2

-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

Time lag (days)


Figure 4

Cross-correlograms for Houndean, winter 2000/1 (top) and autumn 2001 (bottom).

or from the UK Environment Agency regional telemetry network. Rainfall data were taken from the nearest storage or
tipping-bucket rain gauge maintained by the Environment
Agency, as indicated in Table 1.

Methodology
Cross-correlation is a time series technique which can be
used to evaluate the statistical correlation between two
sets of data at different time lags. Before the data are
analysed, any daily trend in the water-level time series is
removed by differencing consecutive values. The cross-correlation of daily rainfall and change in groundwater level
can reveal the significance of the water-table response to
rainfall after a given number of days, and can also allow
the time taken for the first water-table response to rainfall
to be calculated. Cross-correlations were calculated using
the following relationship:
qy k

Ex t  lx y tk  ly 
rx ry

where
qy(k) = cross-correlation
at
time
lag
k,
k = 0, 1, 2 . . . n time lag between the two series (days),
xt = observed rainfall at time t, yt = observed water level at
time t, lx = mean of rainfall series, ly = mean of water-level
series, rx = standard deviation of rainfall series, ry = standard deviation of water-level series.
Significant correlations at the 95% confidence level are
p
taken to be those greater than the standard error 2/ N
(Diggle, 1990), where N is the number of values in the data
set. This is effectively testing the hypothesis of no correlation and assumes that the variance is finite and normally distributed about a mean of zero. Autocorrelations were first
calculated to identify any significant correlations occurring
within the individual rainfall and water-level response data
sets. Fig. 3 shows an example of a cross-correlation between synthetic rainfall and water-level data sets. Rainfall
occurs on Day 1 only and the water level declines until
Day 4 when the pulse reaches the water table. During this
period the correlation between rainfall and water-level response is negative for the first 3 days and becomes positive
on Day 4. On Days 57 the water level continues to rise and

612

L.J.E. Lee et al.


0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5

Significance Level

C o rr e l a t i o n

0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
-0.1
-0.2
-0.3
-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

Time lag (days)


0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5

Significance Level

C or re la t io n

0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
-0.1
-0.2
-0.3
-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

Time lag (days)


Figure 5

Cross-correlograms for Chilgrove, winter 2000/1 (top) and autumn 2000 (bottom).

the positive correlation becomes statistically significant.


As the rate of water-level change starts to decrease on
Day 8, the values fall below the significance level for the
data set, and as the water level starts to recess, the correlation again becomes negative. The negative lags are, however, generally ignored in cross-correlation analysis as they
do not provide any additional information: they simply represent those times when the two series are out of phase,
rather than in phase.

Results
Cross-correlation of rainfall and water-level
response data
Cross-correlation analyses of rainfall and water-level response were carried out using the daily time series, which
were subdivided into seasonal data sets of 3-month duration. Sets of 3-month duration were chosen so that seasonal
differences in water-level response could be identified. The
shape of the resulting correlograms varies significantly be-

tween sites. For example, in Sussex, the Houndean crosscorrelogram tends to have a few very distinct correlations,
particularly at short time lags (Fig. 4), whereas at Chilgrove
the most significant correlations are weaker, but are persistent over several consecutive time lags (Fig. 5).
For the data sets considered (i.e., daily series over a 3month period) correlations >0.2 were taken to be statistically significant. As part of the study, cross-correlations
were also carried out using data sets 1 month in length.
However, these short periods were not sufficient to identify
significant correlations at a time lag greater than approximately 1 week, should they be occurring. The ability of
the cross-correlation technique to detect significant correlations at larger time lags is limited by short data sets. A
summary of significant time lags between rainfall and water
level is shown in Table 2. Only results for spring 2000 to
summer 2002 are shown for Wolverton to ensure consistency
with the monitoring period at four of the other sites.
An important point to note is that the time lag for significant correlations is heavily dependent on the season, with
much shorter time lags (some <24 h) occurring in wet

1, 2, 3, 5, 6
2, 15
No correlations
No data
No correlations

1, 2, 9, 10, 11

No correlations
15, 22

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

No correlations
0

Winter 2001/2

Spring 2002
Summer 2002

No correlations
0, 7

4, 21, 36
12, 25

2, 6, 8
18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24,
25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
No data
18
14, 17, 29
21
5, 6, 8, 11, 15, 18
Summer 2001
Autumn 2001

Maximum cross-correlation is indicated with bold typeface. Results for Wolverton are shown for Spring 2000 to Summer 2002 only.

Spring 1994
Summer 1994
Autumn 1994

0, 1, 2, 3
Winter 1993/4

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,
14, 15, 16, 17, 18
No correlations
No correlations

1, 2, 36
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
No correlations
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
0, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11
Winter 2000/1
Spring 2001

1, 2, 3, 4, 13

No correlations
2, 3
Summer 1993
Autumn 1993

10
1, 2
Summer 1992
Autumn 1992

7, 8, 9, 10
6, 7, 8
2, 5, 9, 16
3
0
0, 1, 2, 19
10, 11, 18, 19, 20, 21
No correlations
0, 1, 2
8, 9, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20
No correlations
0, 26, 27
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 16, 18, 19
No correlations
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Spring 2000
Summer 2000
Autumn 2000

0, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
No correlations
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
21, 22, 23, 24
0, 1
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
9, 10, 11, 12,
14, 16, 17, 18
12
17

Autumn 1991
Winter 1991/2
Spring 1992

6. Ogbourne
5. Wolverton
4. Houndean
3. Chilgrove
2. Broadhalfpenny Down
1. Preston

Table 2

Statistically significant cross-correlations (in days) between daily rainfall and water-table response time series, calculated seasonally for Southern Chalk sites

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer

613

seasons than in dry seasons. Dry seasons are generally


summer and autumn, but they also include periods in winter
and spring where there has been generally low rainfall. For
example, spring of 2000 was wet, but followed a relatively
dry winter when rainfall from October to March in southern
England was less than 85% of long-tem average (NERC,
2000a). Similarly, autumn of 2000 was exceptionally wet,
with rainfall in southern England in September and October
approaching 23 times the long-term average (NERC,
2000b).
These effects can be observed at Houndean (Fig. 4)
where the first water-level response to rainfall is observed
at a time lag of 1 day during winter 2000/1. In contrast,
the first water-level response at Houndean during autumn
2001, a much drier period, is observed at a time lag of 12
days. At Chilgrove (Fig. 5) a similar response can be seen;
during winter 2000/1, water-level response occurs within
1 day, whereas the first significant response takes 18 days
during the following autumn. The time lag for water-level
response can also vary greatly between sites; in the summer
of 2001, a water-level response to rainfall is observed at a
lag of 2 days at Chilgrove and at 21 days at Preston
Candover.
During some seasons, a delayed secondary water response is observed. The maximum time period between
significant cross-correlations for each borehole is shown
in Table 3. This period varies from 1 day (i.e., cross-correlations occur on consecutive days) to 34 days. During
autumn 2000, a delay greater than 2 weeks between
pulses is seen at Houndean, Broadhalfpenny Down and
Wolverton. For example, during autumn 2000, the water
level responds at lags of zero and of 26 days at Broadhalfpenny Down (Fig. 6). During the same period, at Houndean, the water level responds at a lag of zero and 19
days after rainfall (Fig. 6). The remaining two sites, Chilgrove and Preston Candover, show a maximum time delay
of 1 day. During autumn 2001 a time delay of nearly 2
weeks is seen at two sites, Houndean and Broadhalfpenny
Down.

Unsaturated zone thickness and water-level


response
The first statistically significant correlation at each site is
plotted as a function of the average unsaturated zone thickness for each season in Figs. 7 and 8, in order to illustrate
the change in time lag with change in unsaturated zone
thickness. At Chilgrove, Houndean, Broadhalfpenny Down
and Ogbourne, the unsaturated zone thicknesses vary from
3 to 73 m (Fig. 7). The majority of correlation points suggest
a major increase in time lag when the water table is below a
critical depth, which varies from site to site. This trend can
be fitted with a bilinear function, as illustrated in the figures. A very rapid water-table response is indicated at these
four sites with the first significant correlations between
rainfall and water level occurring within 24 h of a rainfall
event. For example, at Broadhalfpenny Down, a water-level
response is observed at a depth of 64 m within 1 day of a
rainfall event, during autumn 2000. However, these short
time lag correlations are followed by a rapidly increasing
time lag once the unsaturated zone has exceeded a critical

614
Table 3

L.J.E. Lee et al.


Maximum time period between significant cross-correlations for all boreholes

Spring 2000
Summer 2000
Autumn 2000
Winter 2000/1
Spring 2001
Summer 2001
Autumn 2001
Winter 2001/2
Spring 2002
Summer 2002

1. Preston
Candover

2. Broadhalfpenny
Down

3. Chilgrove

4. Houndean

5. Wolverton

1
1
4

4
1

26
1

12
7

1
1
1
4
1
No data
No data

17
34
1
17
13
9

16
1
3

6. Ogbourne
Autumn 1991
Winter 1991/2
Spring 1992
Summer 1992
Autumn 1992
Summer 1993
Autumn 1993
Winter 1993/4
Spring 1994
Summer 1994
Autumn 1994

1
1
7

1
1
2
13

Results for Wolverton are shown for Spring 2000 to Summer 2002 only.

At Wolverton and Preston Candover (Fig. 8), where the


unsaturated zone is always less than 18 m thick, the correlations display two distinct trends. The first type of response

thickness. The trend lines fitted for each site are unique; no
single relationship between unsaturated zone thickness and
time lag is present at all Chalk sites.
0.6
0.5
0.4

Significance Level
Corr elat ion

0.3
0.2
0.1
0
-0.1
-0.2
-0.3
-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

22

24

26

28

30

Time lag (days)


0.6
0.5
0.4

Co rr elatio n

Significance Level
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
-0.1
-0.2
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

Time lag (days)


Figure 6 Cross-correlograms showing delayed secondary response at Houndean, autumn 2000 (top), and Broadhalfpenny Down,
autumn 2000 (bottom).

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer

615

25

Time delay (days)

20

Increas e in tim e lag at a


critical saturated
thickness

15

10

0
0

20

10

40

30

60

50

70

80

Unsaturated zone thickness (m)


Ogbourne

Broadhalfpenny

Chilgrove

Houndean

Figure 7 Time lag for first statistically significant water-level response vs. unsaturated zone thickness at Broadhalfpenny Down,
Ogbourne, Houndean and Chilgrove.

30

Time delay (days)

25

2nd type of response


(after 48 hrs)

20

15

1st type of response


(within 48 hrs)

10

0
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

Unsaturated zone thickness (m)


Preston

Wolverton

Figure 8 Time lag for first statistically significant water-level response vs. unsaturated zone thickness at Preston and Wolverton
(responses for Wolverton shown for entire monitoring period).

occurs within 2 days of a recharge event, and the time lag


appears to be independent of the thickness of the unsaturated zone. The second type of response occurs some time
after this rapid response and as the unsaturated zone increases in thickness, the time taken for the first water-table
response also increases. The relationship between unsaturated zone thickness and the time delay for water-level response is approximately linear at these sites. A statistical
outlier occurs during autumn 1996, following a very dry episode when water-level response to rainfall took 21 days
through an unsaturated zone thickness of 18 m. At Preston
Candover, the unsaturated zone thickness is always less
than 11 m, and the majority of water-level responses occur
within 1 day of a rainfall event.
In Figs. 7 and 8, the first significant correlation was selected for plotting against unsaturated zone thickness. This
variable was chosen over the maximum significant correla-

tion because in some cases the maximum correlation occurs


within the initial response and in some cases within the secondary response. Using the first significant correlation ensures that the same information is plotted for each
correlogram.

Discussion
Unsaturated flow
Flow through the unsaturated zone may occur through the
matrix, fissures, or a combination of both pathways. In principle, matric response may take the form of flow through
pores or may occur as a matric pulse, which displaces water
by a piston-type movement. Matric pore flow is extremely
slow as the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the matrix
is only 35 mm/day and the porosity is high (Price et al.,

616

L.J.E. Lee et al.

1976). Movement of water in a matric pulse (i.e., diffusive


flow as suggested by Barker, 1993) produces a faster response, but the speed of this response depends on the water
content of the unsaturated zone matrix. Fissure flow can occur at rates of 0.1100 m/day but is thought to occur in the
Chalk only when rainfall intensity is greater than approximately 5 mm/day, i.e., when rainfall intensity is greater
than the hydraulic conductivity of the matrix.
Some of the responses observed at many of the study
sites are much too rapid to be attributed to matric pore
flow. The most rapid response to rainfall is observed at
Broadhalfpenny Down where a water-level response occurred at 64 m depth within 1 day of a rainfall event.
The unsaturated hydraulic conductivity Ku is approximately
35 mm/day; so, if matric pore flow were the only route for
water flow through the system, the expected response time
would be many years. However, the speed of propagation of
a matric pulse (piston displacement) through the Chalk is
much more rapid. The time (t) for a significant response
over a distance (z) in a one-dimensional diffusive system
(e.g., Barker, 1993; Price et al., 2000) is given as:
t

z2 C
2K u

where C is the specific moisture capacity (dh/dw), representing the drainage of bulk volume h per metre of water
suction w. Eq. (2) represents the solution of a one-dimensional diffusion equation, with the diffusivity D = K(w)/
C(w). For typical suctions in the Chalk, in the range 10
150 kPa, laboratory values of C lie in the range 0.0001
0.0007 m1 (Price et al., 2000). Inserting these C values into
Eq. (2), along with the z and t values for the most rapid response at Broadhalfpenny Down, gives a range of required
Ku values of 0.21.4 m/day. This value is much greater than
the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the Chalk matrix.
Therefore, this response cannot be attributed to propagation through the matrix. Solutions for the matric pulse equation (Eq. (2)) for a range of feasible values of Ku and C are

plotted in Fig. 9 together with the unsaturated zone thickness (z) and response time (t) for the six boreholes in the
southern Chalk. The fastest possible matric response is
given by the (Ku = 0.01 m/day, C = 0.0001 m1) curve in
Fig. 9, obtained using the highest possible value of matric
Ku and the lowest possible value of C. This curve shows that
all the responses at Broadhalfpenny Down and several of the
responses at Houndean, Wolverton and Chilgrove cannot be
attributed to a matric response. Water-level responses at
these sites during several periods are too rapid for a matric
pulse and can therefore only result from fissure flow. The
maximum daily rainfall intensity was greater than 5 mm/
day (i.e., greater than the assumed hydraulic conductivity
of the saturated matrix) during all these periods of likely fissure flow.

Unsaturated zone thickness


The plot of water-level response time vs. unsaturated zone
thickness (Fig. 9) shows that the time lag for the significant
response to rainfall is dependent on the thickness of the
unsaturated zone. The four sites with the deepest unsaturated zone show a rapid increase in time lag when the unsaturated zone reaches a critical thickness. One would expect
the time lag to be dependent not only on the unsaturated
zone thickness, but also on the degree of saturation of this
zone. The majority of rapid responses are observed during
the winter/spring recharge period when the unsaturated
zone is not only at its thinnest, but when the water content
of the unsaturated zone is also likely to be at its highest.
The majority of slower responses are observed during
summer/autumn periods when the unsaturated zone is at
its thickest and the water content is also likely to be lowest.
Given that specific moisture capacity (C) decreases
and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity increases with
increasing water content, the apparent change in time lag
with unsaturated zone thickness may actually reflect this
co-variation with water content. The findings support those

25
Ku=0.0001 m/d
C=0.0001 m-1

Time delay (days)

20

Ku=0.01 m/d
C=0.001 m-1
Ku=0.01 m/d
C=0.0001 m-1

15

10

0
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Unsaturated zone thickness (m)


Broadhalfpenny

Ogbourne

Houndean

Chilgrove

P re s ton

Wolverton

Figure 9 Time delay vs. unsaturated zone thickness for all boreholes. Solutions of the matric pulse equation (Eq. (2)) are given for
different values of Ku and C, as indicated.

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer
of Lewis et al. (1993) and Price et al. (2000) which indicate
that there can be significant storage in the unsaturated zone
of the Chalk.
The abrupt change in slope in the curves suggests a possible change in the dominant flow pathway. This change in
mechanism may be from fissure to matric flow, as the water
potential decreases, or from fissure flow to partial fissure
thin film flow. Previous work by Gardner et al. (1990) indicates that as water potential increases in the Chalk, the
hydraulic conductivity becomes too great to be attributed
to matric flow and this indicates that fissure flow has been
initiated. Their graph of conductivity as a function of matric
potential exhibits a sharp break in slope when flow changes
from matric to fissure flow. The transition from matric to
fissure dominated flow may also explain the change in slope
observed in the unsaturated zone vs. time-lag graph. The
responses occurring above the change in slope can be attributed to matric flow but they do not lie on a quadratic curve
(which would be expected from Eq. (2), when t is plotted
against z). This is because each matric pulse curve is plotted
for constant Ku, whereas the value of Ku and the value of C
are changing seasonally, and so are different for each point
on the curve.
The response line plotted for Broadhalfpenny Down,
which is too rapid for any point to be attributed to piston
flow through the matrix, shows a clear change in slope. In
this case, it is worth noting that the solution for the matric
equation giving the fastest response in Fig. 9 is dependant
on the values for Ku and C being at the known extremes
for the Chalk. Given the variation in Chalk hydraulic properties at differing lithologies and location, values for these
parameters may cover a wider range than can be measured
from a limited number of sample locations. In this case,
some of the longer time lags could be attributed to a matric
response and the transition from matric to fissure flow may
account for the change in slope.
As no field measurements of water potential are available for the study sites during the monitoring period, it is
not possible to ascertain whether the actual potential is
of the correct magnitude to initiate fissure or matric flow
during different seasons. Without these field measurements, it cannot be discounted that the responses detected
through cross-correlation are all actually a result of fissure
flow in the Chalk. Recently, however, Mathias et al.
(2005) have shown that a fissure-diffusion model such as
that proposed by Barker and Foster (1981) cannot replicate
observed solute profiles unless an unrealistically close fracture spacing is assumed. They conclude that matric flow is a
significant process in the unsaturated zone of the Chalk.
No general trend linking the statistically significant time
delay to unsaturated zone thickness is observed for the
Chalk, nor would it be expected. The different trend line
shapes and transition points between rapid and delayed
response will be influenced by local Chalk properties such
as chalk lithology, proximity to rivers and dry valleys Oxford
comma and Quaternary weathering. At two of the boreholes, Wolverton and Preston Candover, the water table
usually responds rapidly to rainfall. This response can be
attributed to fissure flow. However, the response time is
occasionally greater than 2 days. This type of response lies
on an approximately straight line from the origin. Comparison of this line with values obtained using a low value for Ku

617

(0.0001 m/day) and a low value for C (0.0001 m1) (Fig. 9)


suggests that these values show matric response behaviour
under fairly dry conditions.

Delayed secondary responses


In several boreholes an initial rapid water-level response to
rainfall is followed by a second delayed response. It is possible that the two distinct responses indicate separate fissure flow and matric pulse responses. Two responses are
clearly seen during autumn 2000 at Houndean and at Broadhalfpenny Down (Fig. 10). If we assume that the correlations
observed at a lag of one and 2 days are fissure responses,
the matric flow would be represented by the response seen
at 19 days at Houndean and 26 days at Broadhalfpenny
Down. Inserting these times for secondary response into
Eq. (2), along with the range of C values given previously,
results in a range of Ku values of 0.21.7 mm/day at Houndean and 17 mm/day at Broadhalfpenny. These values correspond well with the measured Ku value of the Chalk
matrix.
A delayed secondary response to rainfall is most common
during wetter periods, e.g., during the winter floods of
2000. The lower rainfall intensities during drier periods
may not produce such intense pulses through the matrix
and may not, therefore, produce distinctive peaks, which
are detectable in the cross-correlation above background
noise. Additionally, the analysis is based on time series of
3 months length and this may not cover a long enough time
span to detect the longer time lags expected when Ku is
lower.

Limitations
Cross-correlation analysis merely establishes whether or not
a significant correlation exists between patterns of variation
in rainfall and changes in borehole water level. It does not
on its own indicate what causes the response. There are
other factors, which could possibly contribute to the
water-level response, e.g., changes in atmospheric pressure, entrapped air in the unsaturated zone, or lateral flow
to a borehole from an up-valley location. However, most of
these can probably be discounted. Significant barometric effects can occur in unconfined aquifers (Healy and Cook,
2002) but are not widely reported from the Chalk. The size
of the fluctuations is generally much larger than changes in
atmospheric pressure (Fig. 2), making it impossible to explain them by this mechanism. Furthermore, rainfall in
southern England is usually associated with low barometric
pressure, which means that the rise in the potentiometric
surface would occur before or during the precipitation,
not after it. Entrapped air during infiltration is most likely
to be associated with finely textured soils as they become
impermeable to air when saturated (Healy and Cook,
2002). As soils tend to be very thin on the Chalk, it is unlikely that they will form a thick enough barrier to prevent
air movement. It is even more unlikely that air could be
entrapped in an unsaturated zone that is dissected by a
well-developed fissure network that would be at least partly
air-filled; it is also unlikely that this effect would take
several weeks to manifest and would control the long-term
responses observed here.

618

L.J.E. Lee et al.


0.8

Fissure
Matrix

0.6

Correlation

0.4
Significance Level
0.2

-0.2

-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

Time lag (days)


0.8

Fissure

0.6

Matrix
Correlation

0.4

Significance Level

0.2

-0.2

-0.4
0

10

12

14

16

18

20

22

24

26

28

30

Time lag (days)

Figure 10 Cross-correlograms showing delayed secondary responses with possible fissure and matric responses indicated for
Houndean, autumn 2000 (top), and Broadhalfpenny Down, autumn 2000 (bottom).

Lateral subsurface flow, (e.g., along highly-permeable


layers like that seen in the Candover Valley) cannot be discounted, but since the water involved would have had to
infiltrate the unsaturated zone anyway and would then have
travelled relatively quickly through the saturated zone, its
presence or absence does not seriously affect the arguments
of this paper. Furthermore, at many interfluve sites, Chalk
permeabilities are very low, limiting the capacity for lateral
migration. A limitation of the current data set is that it is
difficult to estimate the variance in the data as the monitoring period is short and relatively few data points are available. The current findings will be enhanced considerably
once daily data sets of longer length are available for the
sites.
Pumping from nearby boreholes could affect water levels. There are few borehole sites in southern England that
are not affected by pumping from other boreholes. Data
were collected on all licensed abstractions within 5 km of
the study sites. Several of them have large public-supply
or industrial licensed abstractions close enough to cause a

theoretical effect. However, such abstractions tend to


operate at similar rates each day (except on weekends),
so it is unlikely that recovery from such an abstraction could
cause an effect that would be mistaken for a rise of water
level in response to rainfall such as those illustrated in
Fig. 2. If pumping patterns were dominating the response
illustrated in Fig. 2, one would expect a weekly pattern of
water table response that was largely independent of
rainfall.

Conclusions
This study has considered the correlations between rainfall
events and rises in the water table at six sites on the Chalk
of southern England. The time for the water table to respond to rainfall has been found to vary from less than 1
day to more than 4 weeks. The slower responses occur during or at the end of dry periods, when both storage in the
unsaturated zone and its matric hydraulic conductivity are

Analysis of water-level response to rainfall and implications for recharge pathways in the Chalk aquifer
at a minimum. The rapid responses occur during or after wet
periods, when these conditions are reversed; the autumn
and winter of 20002001 were especially notable for rapid
responses. Although many of the responses can be explained
as the result of a piston-displacement mechanism through
the matrix, some of the most rapid responses of deeper
water tables can be explained only as the result of fissure
flow through at least a large part of the unsaturated zone.
These events occurred when the rainfall intensity exceeded
the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the matrix. As further and longer high-resolution time series of borehole
water levels become available, the methodology demonstrated here could potentially be very useful in developing
models of aquifer recharge, which reflect location response
patterns under a range of conditions and climatic fluctuations. When combined with numerical modelling of matric
and fissure flow, it represents a feasible technique for calibrating such models, without the need for detailed monitoring of matric potential in the unsaturated zone. More
generally, the results presented here demonstrate the range
and consistency of water-level responses to rainfall events
in the Chalk, both of which can be explained by invoking
the combined effects of matric diffusion and fissure flow
processes at each site.

Acknowledgements
The Environment Agency, Southern Region, are gratefully
acknowledged for the financial and technical support they
provided for this project through a Ph.D. studentship to
Leonora Lee. They also provided borehole water level, rainfall and local abstraction data, and Anne Wilkinson, Russell
Long, Alison Rennie and Emily Cranch are particularly
acknowledged for their assistance. Adrian Lawrence and
Richard Marks of the British Geological Survey kindly provided water-level data for the Ogbourne borehole, which
are also gratefully acknowledged. The comments of two
anonymous reviewers significantly improved the manuscript
and are gratefully acknowledged.

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