Rheic flow is the visible free running water we normally think of as a stream, river or other moving flow of water.
Hyporheic flow is the percolating flow of water through the sand, gravel, sediments and other permeable soils under and beside the open streambed.
The hyporheic zone is the area under or beside a stream channel or floodplain that contributes water to the stream. Hyporheic flow, also called interstitial flow, is the subsurface flow between the water table and surface water flow. The source of hyporheic flow can be from the channel itself or the water percolating to the stream from the surroundings.
The water flow in this zone is rather large. The water volume in the hyporheic zone can even be as large as the stream itself.
Hyporheic flow may comprise all of the flow in arid areas with sandy soils, such as in desert areas, when the surface waters have dried up.
In this zone, a lot of the organic material is consumed and the nutrients are converted to inorganic ions as NO3-1 or PO4-3.
This is where much of the water purification occurs, due to the high surface areas and retention times involved. Many bacteria, insect larvae, and other small creatures, live there and aid in purification.
Plants that extend their roots into the hyporheic zone thus have a good source of nutrients.
Thus, the hyporheic zone is important to the removal of nutrients from the water body.
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