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Submarine Groundwater Discharge and Fate Along the Coast of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Island of Hawai`i; Part 3, Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Nearshore Waters and Coastal Groundwater Plumes, December 2003-April 2006

July 3, 2010

During seven surveys between December 2003 and April 2006, 1,045 depth profiles of surface water temperature and salinity were collected to examine variability in water column properties and the influence of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) on the nearshore waters and coral reef complex of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Island of Hawai`i. This effort was made to characterize the variability in nearshore water properties with seasonality and hydrodynamic forcing (tides, winds, and waves) and to determine the spatial and vertical extent of influence of SGD plumes on the Park's marine biological resources. The results of this study reveal that nearshore waters of the Park were persistently influenced by plumes of submarine groundwater discharge that are generally colder, less saline, and more concentrated in nutrients than the surrounding seawater. These plumes extended between 100 and 1,000 m offshore to depths ranging between 1 and 5 m and often contained several million to hundreds of millions of gallons of brackish water. In essence, the Park's nearshore, like much of the arid west coast of Hawai`i, is estuarine. Although the groundwater plumes were persistent over the years studied, their spatial extent and volume varied tidally, seasonally, and annually. In one season, April 2004, an inverse relation of decreasing salinity with increasing temperature was found in the upper 5 m of the water column, unlike the other seasons, when surface water temperature and salinity were positively correlated.

These data provide the first comprehensive record of nearshore water column properties within the Park boundaries and a baseline for detecting and assessing future conditions. Various resort, industrial, and municipal developments, either planned or under construction around the Park, will require significant groundwater supplies and will likely alter groundwater quantity and quality. The flux and quality of groundwater through the National Park are critical to the rare anchialine (brackish) pool ecosystems and various ecosystem functions of the nearshore waters and coral reefs. Changes in groundwater discharge are expected to have significant impacts to the area's coastal ecosystems, including decreased freshwater outflow to the brackish anchialine pools and coral reefs and increased nutrient and contaminant concentrations. In conjunction with two complementary studies of this series (Parts 1 and 2), these data provide insight into the patterns of influence and fate of SGD in the Park's coastal waters. This information is important for determining water-resource management strategies that balance the needs of the ecosystem with those of human livelihood. This report describes the data, presents the general findings, and gives representative examples of seasonal and tidal variability in water column properties and SGD-fed plumes across the Park's nearshore waters.