Fifty years of hyporheic zone research have shown the important role played by the hyporheic zone as an interface between groundwater and surface waters. However, it is only in the last two decades that what began as an empirical science has become a mechanistic science devoted to modeling studies of the complex fluid dynamical and biogeochemical mechanisms occurring in the hyporheic zone. These efforts have led to the picture of surface-subsurface water interactions as regulators of the form and function of fluvial ecosystems. Rather than being isolated systems, surface water bodies continuously interact with the subsurface. Exploration of hyporheic zone processes has led to a new appreciation of their wide reaching consequences for water quality and stream ecology. Modern research aims toward a unified approach, in which processes occurring in the hyporheic zone are key elements for the appreciation, management, and restoration of the whole river environment. In this unifying context, this review summarizes results from modeling studies and field observations about flow and transport processes in the hyporheic zone and describes the theories proposed in hydrology and fluid dynamics developed to quantitatively model and predict the hyporheic transport of water, heat, and dissolved and suspended compounds from sediment grain scale up to the watershed scale. The implications of these processes for stream biogeochemistry and ecology are also discussed.
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