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Saturated Zone


The information in this text is a Technical summary of the work undertaken in the EU FP6 project AquaTerra (Project 
number GOCE 505428), which ran from April 2005 until March 2009. The aim of this technical summary is to provide a
concise account of the range and nature of the work undertaken in the project relating to the subject of the SATURATED
ZONE: the intention is to make the work of AquaTerra more accessible to a wider audience. This document should be
read with a view to following up the work it describes in more detail through the specific project deliverables,
which if publically available can be downloaded from the main project website:
Alternatively, a catalogue of relevant scientific publications related to this subject can be viewed at

Click here to download a pdf file of the full technical summary


The saturated zone encompasses the area below ground in which all interconnected openings within the geologic 
medium are completely filled with water. A particularly important zone is the so called hyporheic zone which connects
groundwater to surface water. It is defined as the saturated zone beneath a stream or river where groundwater and
surface water mix. Since groundwater and surface water are different with regard to their physical and chemical
properties, the groundwater-surface water interface is characterised by biogeochemical gradients. Thus it
is a very active zone for microbial activity and hence for the transformation of dissolved solutes and pollutants.

In general the groundwater-surface water interface has not been as thoroughly researched as either groundwater
or surface water in their own right. However, understanding the transport of pollutants and interaction processes
between groundwater and surface water, as well as understanding the particular processes in the hyporheic zone
will improve knowledge of pollution in the hydrological system as a whole. For the purposes of this technical summary,
the saturated zone will deal with the VADOSE ZONE ONLY. For information on AquaTerra work in the phreatic zone, please
consult the technical summary for GROUNDWATER.

Work investigating transfers of water and pollutants across the groundwater-surface interface took place
in the ELBE basin as part of the BASIN and FLUX sub projects.

Click here to download a pdf file of the full technical summary

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