A digital model was developed to simulate ground-water flow and solute transport for the Upper Floridan aquifer in the Savannah, Georgia-Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, area. The model was used to (1) simulate trends of saltwater intrusion from predevelopment to the present day (1885-2004), (2) project these trends from the present day into the future, and (3) evaluate the relative influence of different assumptions regarding initial and boundary conditions and physical properties. The model is based on a regional, single-density ground-water flow model of coastal Georgia and adjacent parts of South Carolina and Florida.
Variable-density ground-water flow and solute transport were simulated using the U.S. Geological Survey finite-element, variable-density solute-transport simulator SUTRA, 1885-2004. The model comprises seven layers: the surficial aquifer system, the Brunswick aquifer system, the Upper Floridan aquifer, the Lower Floridan aquifer, and the intervening confining units.
The model was calibrated to September 1998 water levels, for single-density freshwater conditions, then refined using variable density and chloride concentration to give a reasonable match to the trend in the chloride distribution in the Upper Floridan aquifer inferred from field measurements of specific conductance made during 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004. The model was modified to simulate solute transport by allowing saltwater to enter the system through localized areas near the northern end of Hilton Head Island, at Pinckney Island, and near the Colleton River, and was calibrated to match chloride concentrations inferred from field measurements of specific conductance. This simulation is called the 'Base Case.'