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An Integrated Approach Based on Numerical Modelling and Geophysical Survey to Map Groundwater Salinity in Fractured Coastal Aquifers.
Costantino Masciopinto, Isabella Serena Liso, Maria Clementina Caputo and Lorenzo De Carlo.
Water, 2017

Abstract

Aquifer over-exploitation may increase coastal seawater intrusion by reducing freshwater availability. Fractured subsurface formations commonly host important freshwater reservoirs along sea coasts. These water resources are particularly vulnerable to the contamination due to seawater infiltration occurring through rapid pathways via fractures. Modeling of density driven fluid flow in fractured aquifers is complex, as their hydrodynamics are controlled by interactions between preferential flow pathways, 3D interconnected fractures and rock-matrix porosity distribution. Moreover, physical heterogeneities produce highly localized water infiltrations that make the modeling of saltwater transport in such aquifers very challenging. The new approach described in this work provides a reliable hydrogeological model suitable to reproduce local advancements of the freshwater/saltwater wedge in coastal aquifers. The proposed model use flow simulation results to estimate water salinities in groundwater at a specific depth (1 m) below water table by means of positions of the Ghyben-Herzberg saltwater/freshwater sharp interface along the coast. Measurements of salinity in 25 boreholes (i.e., salinity profiles) have been used for the model calibration. The results provide the groundwater salinity map in freshwater/saltwater transition coastal zones of the Bari (Southern Italy) fractured aquifer. Non-invasive geophysical measurements in groundwater, particularly into vertical 2D vertical cross-sections, were carried out by using the electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) in order to validate the model results. The presented integrated approach is very easy to apply and gives very realistic salinity maps in heterogeneous aquifers, without simulating density driven water flow in fractures.