Salt-water encroachment as induced by sea-level excavation on Angaur Island

Economic Geology
By: , and 



Angaur, southwesternmost of the Palau Islands, 800 miles southwest of Guam, has an area of 3.2 square miles and consists of reef limestone of Pliocene through Recent age. In the northwestern part of the island a basin is formed by a ringlike ridge that has a maximum altitude of 150 feet. To the east and south a series of arc-shaped lower ridges and intervening depressions are concentric with the ring ridge. Beyond these, a low plain with shallow swales composes the remaining two-thirds of the island. The ridges are composed of indurated limestone, whereas the plain is underlain chiefly by unconsolidated coralline fragments. Phosphate has been mined from the three types of topographic depressions since 1908. When power equipment was introduced, excavations were extended below sea level. Lakes formed in these excavations and, despite an annual rainfall of 110 inches, contamination of fresh-water supplies and of agricultural land by salt water resulted from tidal pulsations through the fissured rock. As a result, stoppage of mining was imminent unless remedial measures could be devised. Angaur provides a model of the operations of a Ghyben-Herzberg fresh-water lens on an oceanic island. At numerous lakes, wells, and test holes, continuing observations were made on water levels; amplitude and lag of tidal fluctuations; and mineral content, pH, and temperature of the lens. These observations guided the selection of constantly adjusted remedial measures, which included partitioning of lakes, and bottom filling or back filling of compartments that failed to freshen because of fissures connecting them with the sea. © 1955 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Salt-water encroachment as induced by sea-level excavation on Angaur Island
Series title Economic Geology
DOI 10.2113/gsecongeo.50.7.669
Volume 50
Issue 7
Year Published 1955
Language English
Publisher GeoScienceWorld
Description 12 p.
First page 669
Last page 680
Country Palau
State Angaur
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