What time scales are important for monitoring tidally influenced submarine groundwater discharge? Insights from a salt marsh

Alicia M. Wilson, Tyler B. Evans, Willard S. Moore, Charles A. Schutte, Samantha B. Joye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) varies significantly across time scales ranging from hours to years, but studies that allow quantitative comparisons between different time scales are few. Most of these studies have focused on beach settings, where the combined variations in fresh and saline SGD can be difficult to interpret. We calculated variations in saline SGD based on a 1 year record of hydraulic head in a salt marsh, where we could isolate variations in saline, tidally driven SGD. Observed SGD varied by an order of magnitude over the course of the year. Groundwater discharge was proportional to tidal amplitude and varied by at least a factor of 2 between spring and neap tides. Monthly average SGD was inversely proportional to average sea level; it increased by nearly a factor of 2 as sea level declined by ∼50 cm from late summer to late winter. This variation was far larger than that predicted by analytic models, owing to the flat topography and inundation of the marsh platform. The effect of short-term (days) variations in sea level associated with wind events and storms was small in comparison. SGD is probably proportional to tidal amplitude in nearly all coastal settings, including beaches. Seasonal variations in sea level may not affect the volume of SGD as significantly in coastal settings where the slope of the intertidal zone is relatively constant, but such variations have the potential to strongly affect the composition of SGD. Key Points: Tidally driven SGD varied by an order of magnitude over a 1 year period Variations in SGD reflected spring-neap cycles and seasonal changes in sea level Short-term monitoring cannot fully capture groundwater flow in coastal systems

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4198-4207
Number of pages10
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume51
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

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