Journal article

Tidal along-shore groundwater flow in a coastal aquifer

Cross-shore interactions between the ocean and a coastal aquifer have been studied extensively, whereas the corresponding along-shore case has seldom been examined. This paper presents a numerical model that simulates two- dimensional groundwater flow averaged over the thickness of a coastal aquifer. The model is used to examine the essential features of tide-induced, along-shore effects on an aquifer adjacent to a cross-shore river. The results show that the tide, which fluctuates the water level in the river, induces groundwater table fluctuations and oscillating flows in the along-shore direction. This occurs even at locations much further inland than tidal cross- shore fluctuations can propagate. However, the magnitude of along-shore water table fluctuations and flow velocity at a given cross-shore distance decreases with the distance from the river in the same manner as cross- shore tidal fluctuations. The along-shore groundwater flow, together with the cross-shore flow, forms horizontal circulation and increases mixing of solute in the aquifer. Over a tidal period, a large amount of water exchange occurs at the river-aquifer and ocean-aquifer interfaces, leading to increased transfer of chemicals between the three water bodies. These results have implications for the management of waste discharge in estuaries and coastal aquifers.


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