The magnitude and origin of groundwater discharge to eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

Fresh groundwater discharge to coastal environments contributes to the physical and chemical conditions of coastal waters, but the role of coastal groundwater at regional to continental scales remains poorly defined due to diverse hydrologic conditions and the difficulty of tracking coastal groundwater flow paths through heterogeneous subsurface materials. We use three-dimensional groundwater flow models for the first time to calculate the magnitude and source areas of groundwater discharge from unconfined aquifers to coastal waterbodies along the entire eastern U.S. We find that 27.1 km3/yr (22.8–30.5 km3/yr) of groundwater directly enters eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. The contributing recharge areas comprised ~175,000 km2 of U.S. land area, extending several kilometers inland. This result provides new information on the land area that can supply natural and anthropogenic constituents to coastal waters via groundwater discharge, thereby defining the subterranean domain potentially affecting coastal chemical budgets and ecosystem processes.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The magnitude and origin of groundwater discharge to eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2017GL075238
Volume 44
Issue 20
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 10396
Last page 10406
Country United States
Other Geospatial Gulf of Mexico