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Improved Approach for the Investigation of Submarine Groundwater Discharge by Means of Radon Mapping and Radon Mass Balancing

1
Dept. Groundwater Remediation, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research–UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2
Dept. Woods and Forestry, Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, University of Applied Sciences, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 3, 85354 Freising, Germany
3
Institute of Geosciences, University of Kiel, Otto-Hahn-Platz 1, 24118 Kiel, Germany
4
Dept. Catchment Hydrology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZ, Theodor-Lieser-Straße 4, 06120 Halle, Germany
5
Dept. Biological Oceanography, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Biological Oceanography, Seestrasse 15, 18119 Rostock, Germany
6
Umvoto Africa Ltd., 8 Beach Rd, Muizenberg, Cape Town 7945, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 749; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040749
Received: 11 February 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 10 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

The paper presents an improved approach for investigating submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) based on radon mapping and radon mass balancing in the coastal sea. While the use of radon as an environmental tracer in SGD studies is well-established, we identified based on our longstanding experience six methodical shortcomings of the conventional approach and suggest corresponding developments. The shortcomings include: (1 and 2) inadequate consideration of both detection equipment response delay and influence of tidal stage; (3 and 4) incorrect quantification of radon losses, due to offshore mixing and degassing resulting in a potentially incorrect radon mass balance; (5) inaccurate determination of the terrestrial groundwater endmember, due to inhomogeneous radon distribution in the coastal aquifer; and (6) difficulties in distinguishing between discharged fresh groundwater and recirculated seawater. The improved approach is practically demonstrated in a step by step manner in a large-scale field study, which was carried out in False Bay (South Africa) and which consisted of two parts, namely (i) qualitative SGD localization along the entire False Bay coastline based on coastal radon distribution patterns and (ii) quantitative SGD investigation within a defined coastal area of interest (AOI) based on a radon mass balance (RMB). The plausibility of the AOI related results was evaluated by a hydrogeological model, used for qualitative SGD localization, and a hydrological model, applied for estimating groundwater recharge within the AOI catchment. View Full-Text
Keywords: submarine groundwater discharge; environmental tracers; radon method improvement; radon mass balance; coastal hydrology submarine groundwater discharge; environmental tracers; radon method improvement; radon mass balance; coastal hydrology
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Schubert, M.; Petermann, E.; Stollberg, R.; Gebel, M.; Scholten, J.; Knöller, K.; Lorz, C.; Glück, F.; Riemann, K.; Weiß, H. Improved Approach for the Investigation of Submarine Groundwater Discharge by Means of Radon Mapping and Radon Mass Balancing. Water 2019, 11, 749.

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