Volcanic Aquifers of Hawai‘i—Construction and Calibration of Numerical Models for Assessing Groundwater Availability on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui

Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5126
By: , and 



Steady-state numerical groundwater-flow models were constructed for the islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui to enable quantification of the hydrologic consequences of withdrawals and other stresses that can place limits on groundwater availability. The volcanic aquifers of Hawai‘i supply nearly all drinking water for the islands’ residents, freshwater for diverse industries, and natural discharge to springs, streams, and nearshore areas that support ecosystems, cultural practices, aesthetics, and recreation. Increases in groundwater withdrawal and changes in climate can cause water-table depression, saltwater rise, and reduction of natural groundwater discharge—all of which can limit fresh groundwater availability. The numerical models described in this report are designed to quantify these consequences. Separate models were created for each island using MODFLOW-2005 with the Seawater Intrusion package, which allows simulation of freshwater and saltwater in ocean-island aquifers. Calibration resulted in models that generally replicate observed water-level, stream base-flow, and spring-flow data, and simulate groundwater-flow directions and fresh groundwater thicknesses that are consistent with conceptual models. The calibrated models use hydraulic properties that are consistent with the ranges reported in previous studies. The models show that the relative distribution of fresh groundwater discharge to the ocean, streams, and springs and withdrawals for human use differ substantially among the three islands studied here. These differences indicate that consequences that limit the availability of fresh groundwater for human use are likely to differ among the three islands.

Suggested Citation

Izuka, S.K., Rotzoll, K., and Nishikawa, T., 2021, Volcanic Aquifers of Hawai‘i—Construction and calibration of numerical models for assessing groundwater availability on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5126, 63 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205126.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Geographic and Geologic Names
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Overview of the Regional Setting
  • Numerical Groundwater Models
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Volcanic Aquifers of Hawai‘i—Construction and calibration of numerical models for assessing groundwater availability on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2020-5126
DOI 10.3133/sir20205126
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Pacific Islands Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 63 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Hawaii
Other Geospatial Kaua'i, Maui, O'ahu
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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