Surface electromagnetic geophysical exploration of the ground-water resources of Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico, a caribbean carbonate island

Carbonates and Evaporites
By: , and 

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Abstract

Two electromagnetic surface geophysical techniques were used to explore the ground-water resources of Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico—a 55-square-kilometer island located between Puerto Rico and Hispañiola, Isla de Mona is a tectonically uplifted carbonate plateau of Neogene age that has an average elevation of about 50 meters above mean sea level. This plateau is bounded by vertical cliffs except on the southwest where there is a narrow, 3-square-kilometer coastal plain. The coastal plain is composed of Quaternary carbonate deposits, and has a maximum elevation of less than 10 meters above mean sea level. No large-scale surface-water features are found on the plateau or on the coastal plain. To better understand the aquifer characteristics of the island, terrain conductivity and transient electromagnetic data were collected on the coastal plain and on the plateau. Computer programs were used to analyze quantitatively the electromagnetic data. Geoelectric models were produced to approximate the depth below land surface of the saline-freshwater interface underlying both the coastal plain and the plateau. Because the geophysical methods could not discern the water-table, it was assumed that it was near sea level. The thickness of the freshwater lens was estimated by subtracting the elevation of the land surface above mean sea level from the depth to the saline-freshwater interface as determined from the geophysical data. Results from the geophysical methods and water-level observations indicate that a freshwater lens with a maximum thickness of about 10 meters exists under the coastal plain. This lens thins towards the ocean, and it also thins away from the ocean toward the plateau. The model produced from the transient electromagnetic data indicates that the freshwater lens under the plateau has a maximum thickness of about 14 meters, which is a much thinner lens than previously estimated. A freshwater lens thickness of 14 meters is similar to direct measurements by divers in Cueva de Agua at Punta los Ingleses (located on the southeast coast), and observations by divers of freshwater seeps into the ocean at depths of 8 to 10 meters along the north coast cliffs after a major rainstorm.

Ground-water flow in the coastal plain appears to be radial from the center of the freshwater mound. At the intersection between the coastal plain and the plateau, the flow is parallel to the coastline. The direction of flow on the rest of the plateau could not be determined accurately with the available data.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Surface electromagnetic geophysical exploration of the ground-water resources of Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico, a caribbean carbonate island
Series title Carbonates and Evaporites
DOI 10.1007/BF03175403
Volume 10
Issue 2
Year Published 1995
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Caribbean Water Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 184
Last page 192
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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