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Tidal influence on behaviour of a coastal aquifer adjacent to a low-relief estuary.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

  • X. Mao
  • P. Enot
  • D. A. Barry
  • L. Li
  • A. Binley
  • D.-S. Jeng
Journal publication date30/07/2006
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Journal number1-2
Volume327
Number of pages18
Pages110-127
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The tidal influence on groundwater hydrodynamics, salt-water intrusion and submarine groundwater discharge from coastal/estuarine aquifers is poorly quantified for systems with a mildly sloping beach, in contrast to the case where a vertical beach face is assumed. We investigated the effect of beach slope for a coastal aquifer adjacent to a low-relief estuary, where industrial waste was emplaced over the aquifer. The waste was suspected to discharge leachate towards the estuary. Field observations at various locations showed that tidally induced groundwater head fluctuations were skewed temporally. Frequency analysis suggested that the fluctuation amplitudes decreased exponentially and the phase-lags increased linearly for the primary tidal signals as they propagated inland. Salinisation zones were observed in the bottom part of the estuary and near the beach surface. Flow and transport processes in a cross-section perpendicular to the estuary were simulated using SEAWAT-2000, which is capable of depicting density-dependent flow and multi-species transport. The simulations showed that the modelled water table fluctuations were in good agreement with the monitored data. Further simulations were conducted to gain insight into the effects of beach slope. In particular the limiting case of a vertical beach face was considered. The simulations showed that density difference and tidal forcing drive a more complex hydrodynamic pattern for the mildly sloping beach than the vertical beach, as well as a profound asymmetry in tidally induced water table fluctuations and enhanced salt-water intrusion. The simulation results also indicated that contaminant transport from the aquifer to the estuary was affected by the tide, where for the mildly sloping beach, the tide tended to intensify the vertical mass exchange in the vicinity of the shoreline