The coastal aquifer system of southern Oahu, Hawaii, USA, consists of highly permeable volcanic aquifers overlain by weathered volcanic rocks and interbedded marine and terrestrial sediments of both high and low permeability. The weathered volcanic rocks and sediments are collectively known as caprock, because they impede the free discharge of groundwater from the underlying volcanic aquifers. A cross-sectional groundwater flow and transport model was used to evaluate the hydrogeologic controls on the regional flow system in southwestern Oahu. Controls considered were: (a) overall caprock hydraulic conductivity; and (b) stratigraphic variations of hydraulic conductivity in the caprock. Within the caprock, variations in hydraulic conductivity, caused by stratigraphy or discontinuities of the stratigraphic units, are a major control on the direction of groundwater flow and the distribution of water levels and salinity. Results of cross-sectional modeling confirm the general groundwater flow pattern that would be expected in a layered coastal system. Ground-water flow is: (a) predominantly upward in the low-permeability sedimentary units; and (b) predominantly horizontal in the high-permeability sedimentary units.
Additional publication details
Numerical analysis of the hydrogeologic controls in a layered coastal aquifer system, Oahu, Hawaii, USA