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Three-dimensional variable-density flow simulation of a coastal aquifer in southern Oahu, Hawaii, USA

January 1, 2005

Three-dimensional modeling of groundwater flow and solute transport in the Pearl Harbor aquifer, southern Oahu, Hawaii, shows that the readjustment of the freshwater–saltwater transition zone takes a long time following changes in pumping, irrigation, or recharge in the aquifer system. It takes about 50 years for the transition zone to move 90% of the distance to its new steady position. Further, the Ghyben–Herzberg estimate of the freshwater/saltwater interface depth occurred between the 10 and 50% simulated seawater concentration contours in a complex manner during 100 years of the pumping history of the aquifer. Thus, it is not a good predictor of the depth of potable water. Pre-development recharge was used to simulate the 1880 freshwater-lens configuration. Historical pumpage and recharge distributions were used and the resulting freshwater-lens size and position were simulated through 1980. Simulations show that the transition zone moved upward and landward during the period simulated.

Previous groundwater flow models for Oahu have been limited to areal models that simulate a sharp interface between freshwater and saltwater or solute-transport models that simulate a vertical aquifer section. The present model is based on the US Geological Survey’s three-dimensional solute transport (3D SUTRA) computer code. Using several new tools for pre- and post-processing of model input and results have allowed easy model construction and unprecedented visualization of the freshwater lens and underlying transition zone in Hawaii’s most developed aquifer.

Publication Year 2005
Title Three-dimensional variable-density flow simulation of a coastal aquifer in southern Oahu, Hawaii, USA
DOI 10.1007/s10040-004-0371-z
Authors S. B. Gingerich, C.I. Voss
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrogeology Journal
Index ID 70029258
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program