Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:40 AM
THE STORY OF GRAVITY-DRIVEN GROUNDWATER FLOW-SYSTEMS – IN A NUTSHELL
By some twisted logic, the birth and consequences of the concept of gravity-driven groundwater flow-systems could be thanked to communism imposed on Hungary in 1948 by the now defunct Soviet Union. For political reasons, I was not admitted to university after high school but became a factory worker for 1 ½ years instead. Because of this delay in entering university, I just missed graduation as a geophysicist when I had to flee the invading Soviet troops during our revolution in 1956. Having restarted and completed my studies in the Netherlands, I was hired by the Research Council of Alberta, Canada, in 1960, to search for groundwater by geophysics. The proposed technique did not work and I was reassigned to find and develop groundwater supplies in central Alberta by whatever means I could. I looked for rescue to Hubbert's 1940 paper. It helped, by disagreeing with my field observations. I tried to explain the discrepancy by applying his own fluid-potential equation analytically to idealized drainage basins, first with linear then with undulating water tables (Tóth, 1962, '63). Two main lines of interest were triggered internationally by these papers: the patterns, and the natural effects of regional groundwater flow-systems. A key to popularization of the flow-system concept were the Freeze and Witherspoon papers (1966, '67, '68) introducing heterogeneity, arbitrary topography, and numerical solution. Names of pioneering authors on natural effects include Williams (1968, ice lenses), Deer and Patton, (1971, land slides), Domenico and Palciauskas (1973, heat flow), Schwartz and Domenico (1973, hydrochemistry), Galloway (1978, uranium deposits), Winter (1978, lake-groundwater interaction) Tóth (1980, petroleum accumulations), Garven and Freeze (1984, sulfide ores), and so on. In my view, it is due mainly to these and similar papers that by 2000 hydrogeology had become a major, mature, and individual scientific discipline.