The three scales of submarine groundwater flow and discharge across passive continental margins
Increased study of submarine groundwater systems in recent years has provided a wealth of new data and techniques, but some ambiguity has been introduced by insufficient distinguishing of the relevant spatial scales of the phenomena studied. Submarine groundwater flow and discharge on passive continental margins can be most productively studied and discussed by distinct consideration of the following three spatial scales: (1) the nearshore scale, spanning approximately 0–10 m offshore and including the unconfined surficial aquifer; (2) the embayment scale, spanning approximately 10 m to as much as 10 km offshore and including the first confined submarine aquifer and its terminus; and (3) the shelf scale, spanning the width and thickness of the aquifers of the entire continental shelf, from the base of the first confined aquifer downward to the basement, and including influences of geothermal convection and glacio-eustatic change in sea level.
This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geology 118 (2010): 565-575, doi:10.1086/655114.