Variable-density groundwater models require extensive computational resources, particularly for simulations representing short-term hydrologic variability such as tidal fluctuations. Saltwater-intrusion models usually neglect tidal fluctuations and this may introduce errors in simulated concentrations. The effects of tides on simulated concentrations in a coastal aquifer were assessed. Three analyses are reported: in the first, simulations with and without tides were compared for three different dispersivity values. Tides do not significantly affect the transfer of a hypothetical contaminant into the ocean; however, the concentration difference between tidal and non-tidal simulations could be as much as 15%. In the second analysis, the dispersivity value for the model without tides was increased in a zone near the ocean boundary. By slightly increasing dispersivity in this zone, the maximum concentration difference between the simulations with and without tides was reduced to as low as 7%. In the last analysis, an apparent dispersivity value was calculated for each model cell using the simulated velocity variations from the model with tides. Use of apparent dispersivity values in models with a constant ocean boundary seems to provide a reasonable approach for approximating tidal effects in simulations where explicit representation of tidal fluctuations is not feasible.
Additional publication details
Effect of tidal fluctuations on transient dispersion of simulated contaminant concentrations in coastal aquifers