Publication: Evaluation of Temperature Profiling and Seepage Meter Methods for Quantifying Submarine Groundwater Discharge to Coastal Lagoons: Impacts of Saltwater Intrusion and the Associated Thermal Regime

in Water 11:8 (August 2019)
by Joel Tirado-Conde, Peter Engesgaard, Sachin Karan, Sascha Müller and Carlos Duque


Surface water-groundwater interactions were studied in a coastal lagoon performing 180 seepage meter measurements and using heat as a tracer in 30 locations along a lagoon inlet. The direct seepage meter measurements were compared with the results from analytical solutions for the 1D heat transport equation in three different scenarios: (1) Homogeneous bulk thermal conductivity (Ke); (2) horizontal heterogeneity in Ke; and (3) horizontal and vertical heterogeneity in Ke.

The proportion of fresh groundwater and saline recirculated lagoon water collected from the seepage experiment was used to infer the location of the saline wedge and its effect on both the seepage meter results and the thermal regime in the lagoon bed, conditioning the use of the thermal methods.

The different scenarios provided the basis for a better understanding of the underlying processes in a coastal groundwater-discharging area, a key factor to apply the best-suited method to characterize such processes. The thermal methods were more reliable in areas with high fresh groundwater discharge than in areas with high recirculation of saline lagoon water.

The seepage meter experiments highlighted the importance of geochemical water sampling to estimate the origin of the exchanged water through the lagoon bed.

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