Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Nearshore morphology, benthic structure, hydrodynamics, and coastal groundwater discharge near Kahekili Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

September 24, 2012

This report presents a brief summary of recent fieldwork conducted off Kahekili Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii, the site of the newly established U.S. Coral Reef Task Force priority study area at Kaanapali and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (HFMA). The goals of this fieldwork are to provide new baseline information to help guide future studies and to provide first insights into rates and drivers of coastal groundwater discharge and associated constituent loadings into the priority study area's coastal waters. This study presents the first swath acoustic mapping information, in situ oceanographic instrument measurements, and coastal groundwater discharge estimates at this site based on the submarine groundwater discharge tracer radon-222 (222Rn). Coastal groundwater discharge rates ranged from about 22 to 50 centimeters per day, depending on proximity of the sampling mooring to the primary discharge vent. The water chemistry of the discharging groundwater was at times dramatically different than ambient seawater. For example, at the primary vent site at Kahekili, the concentrations of total dissolved nitrogen (TDN), dissolved silicate (DSi), and total dissolved phosphorus (TDP) in the discharging groundwater were 43.75 micromolar (μM), 583.49 μM, and 12.04 μM, respectively. These data extend our basic understanding of the morphology, benthic structure, and oceanographic setting of this vent site and provide a first estimate of the magnitude and physical forcings of submarine groundwater discharge and associated trace metals and nutrient loads here.