Ground Water Whirls

Kick Hemker*, Elmer Van Den Berg, Mark Bakker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Numerical experiments with steady-state ground water flow models show that spiraling flow lines occur in layered aquifers that have different anisotropic horizontal hydraulic conductivities in adjacent layers. Bundles of such flow lines turning in the same direction can be referred to as ground water whirls. An anisotropic layered block in a field of uniform horizontal flow results in one or more whirls with their axes in the uniform flow direction. The number of whirls depends on the number of interfaces between layers with different anisotropic properties. For flow to a well in an aquifer consisting of two anisotropic layers, with perpendicular major principal directions, whirls are found to occur in quadrants that are bounded by the principal directions of the hydraulic conductivity. The combined effect of flow to a well and a layered anisotropy implies that a single well in a system with a single anisotropic layer within an otherwise isotropic aquifer causes eight whirls. All adjacent whirls rotate in opposite directions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-242
Number of pages9
JournalGround Water
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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