Aquifer systems that contain freshwater and saltwater are usually stratified, with the more dense saltwater underlying the freshwater. A groundwater well discharging from the freshwater zone causes the saltwater to move upwards towards the well. This phenomenon is known as saltwater upconing. Two methods of analysis, the sharp-interface method and the fluid-density-dependent solute-transport method, are used to simulate saltwater upconing. Numerical experiments including comparisons of the two methods indicate: (1) for low to moderate pumpages the 50% isochlor and sharp interface correlate well; (2) the well can discharge significant concentrations of saltwater, even though a stable cone (according to the sharp-interface method) exists below the well screen; (3) an almost linear relationship exists between the well discharge rate and the concentration of the discharge at low pumping rates that maintain a stable cone; and (4) upconing is sensitive to transverse dispersivity, whereas it is insensitive to longitudinal dispersivity. A simulation of upconing at Test Site No. 4, Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, indicates that the appropriate field value of transverse dispersivity is very small. This supports the validity of the sharp-interface assumption for analyzing the behavior of systems with thin saltwater-freshwater transition zones. ?? 1987.
Additional publication details
Analysis of saltwater upconing beneath a pumping well