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Sea water in coastal aquifers

January 1, 1964

Investigations in the coastal part of the Biscayne aquifer, a highly productive aquifer of limestone and sand in the Miami area, Florida, show that the salt-water front is dynamically stable as much as 8 miles seaward of the position computed according to the Ghyben-Herzberg principle. This discrepancy results, at least in part, from the fact that the salt water in the Biscayne aquifer is not static, as explanations of the dynamic balance commonly assume. Cross sections showing lines of equal fresh-water potential indicate that during periods of heavy recharge, the fresh-water head is high enough to cause the fresh water, the salt water, and the zone of diffusion between them to move seaward. When the fresh-water head is low, salt water in the lower part of the aquifer intrudes inland, but some of the diluted sea water in the zone of diffusion continues to flow seaward. Thus, salt water circulates inland from the floor of the sea through the lower part of the aquifer becoming progressively diluted with fresh water to a line along which there is no horizontal component of flow, after which it moves upward and returns to the sea.

This cyclic flow is demonstrated by a flow net which is constructed by the use of horizontal gradients determined from the low-head equipotential diagram. The flow net shows that about seven-eights of the total discharge at the shoreline originates as fresh water in inland parts of the aquifer. The remaining one-eighth represents a return of sea water entering the aquifer through the floor of the sea.

Publication Year 1964
Title Sea water in coastal aquifers
DOI 10.3133/wsp1613C
Authors Hilton H. Cooper
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water Supply Paper
Series Number 1613
Index ID wsp1613C
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse