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A thick lens of fresh groundwater exists in a large region of low permeability in the southern Lihue Basin, Kauai, Hawaii, USA. The conventional conceptual model for groundwater occurence in Hawaii and other shield-volcano islands does not account for such a thick freshwater lens. In the conventional conceptual model, the lava-flow accumulations of which most shield volcanoes are built form large regions of relatively high permeability and thin freshwater lenses. In the southern Lihue Basin, basin-filling lavas and sediments form a large region of low regional hydraulic conductivity, which, in the moist climate of the basin, is saturated nearly to the land surface and water tables are hundreds of meters above sea level within a few kilometers from the coast. Such high water levels in shield-volcano islands were previously thought to exist only under perched or dike-impounded conditions, but in the southern Lihue Basin, high water levels exist in an apparently dike-free, fully saturated aquifer. A new conceptual model of groundwater occurrence in shield-volcano islands is needed to explain conditions in the southern Lihue Basin.
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A thick lens of fresh groundwater in the southern Lihue Basin, Kauai, Hawaii, USA