Locating the zone of saline intrusion in a coastal karst aquifer using springflow data

Ground Water. 2007 Jan-Feb;45(1):28-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2006.00252.x.


Coastal fresh water aquifers are an increasingly desirable resource. In a karstic aquifer, sea water intrusion occurs as a salt water wedge, like in porous media. However, preferential flow conduits may alter the spatial and temporal distribution of the salt water. This is typically the case when the outlet of the aquifer is a brackish spring. This paper shows that salinity and flow rate variations at a spring, where salinity is inversely proportional to discharge, can help to understand the hydrodynamic functioning of the aquifer and to locate the fresh water-sea water mixing zone deep inside the aquifer. The volume of water-filled conduit between the sea water intrusion zone and the spring outlet is calculated by the integral over time of the flow rate during the time lag between the flow rate increase and the salinity decrease as measured at the spring. In the example of the spring at Almyros of Heraklio (Crete, Greece), this time lag is variable, depending on the discharge, but the volume of water-filled conduit appears to be constant, which shows that the processes of salt water intrusion and mixing in the conduit are constant throughout the year. The distance between the spring and the zone where sea water enters the conduit is estimated and provides an indication of the position where only fresh water is present in the conduit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion
  • Disasters
  • Fresh Water / chemistry*
  • Geography
  • Greece
  • Oxygen / analysis
  • Rain
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Sodium Chloride / analysis*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Water Movements*
  • Water Supply / analysis*


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Oxygen