Michael Holly A.

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Holly A.

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  • Article
    Radium isotopes as submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) tracers: review and recommendations
    (Elsevier, 2021-05-14) Garcia-Orellana, Jordi ; Rodellas, Valenti ; Tamborski, Joseph ; Diego-Feliu, Marc ; van Beek, Pieter ; Weinstein, Yishai ; Charette, Matthew A. ; Alorda-Kleinglass, Aaron ; Michael, Holly A. ; Stieglitz, Thomas ; Scholten, Jan C.
    Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is now recognized as an important process of the hydrological cycle worldwide and plays a major role as a conveyor of dissolved compounds to the ocean. Naturally occurring radium isotopes (223Ra, 224Ra, 226Ra and 228Ra) are widely employed geochemical tracers in marine environments. Whilst Ra isotopes were initially predominantly applied to study open ocean processes and fluxes across the continental margins, their most common application in the marine environment has undoubtedly become the identification and quantification of SGD. This review focuses on the application of Ra isotopes as tracers of SGD and associated inputs of water and solutes to the coastal ocean. In addition, we review i) the processes controlling Ra enrichment and depletion in coastal groundwater and seawater; ii) the systematics applied to estimate SGD using Ra isotopes and iii) we summarize additional applications of Ra isotopes in groundwater and marine studies. We also provide some considerations that will help refine SGD estimates and identify the critical knowledge gaps and research needs related to the current use of Ra isotopes as SGD tracers.
  • Preprint
    Hydrogeologic controls on groundwater discharge and nitrogen loads in a coastal watershed
    ( 2016-05-02) Russoniello, Christopher J. ; Konikow, Leonard F. ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; Fernandez, Cristina ; Andres, A. Scott ; Michael, Holly A.
    Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is a small portion of the global water budget, but a potentially large contributor to coastal nutrient budgets due to high concentrations relative to stream discharge. A numerical groundwater flow model of the Inland Bays Watershed, Delaware, USA, was developed to identify the primary hydrogeologic factors that affect groundwater discharge rates and transit times to streams and bays. The distribution of groundwater discharge between streams and bays is sensitive to the depth of the water table below land surface. Higher recharge and reduced hydraulic conductivity raised the water table and increased discharge to streams relative to bays compared to the Reference case (in which 66% of recharge is discharged to streams). Increases to either factor decreased transit times for discharge to both streams and bays compared to the Reference case (in which mean transit times are 56.5 and 94.3 years, respectively), though sensitivity to recharge is greater. Groundwaterborne nitrogen loads were calculated from nitrogen concentrations measured in discharging fresh groundwater and modeled SGD rates. These loads combined with long SGD transit times suggest groundwater-borne nitrogen reductions and estuarine water quality improvements will lag decades behind implementation of efforts to manage nutrient sources. This work enhances understanding of the hydrogeologic controls on and uncertainties in absolute and relative rates and transit times of groundwater discharge to streams and bays in coastal watersheds.
  • Article
    Offshore freshened groundwater in continental margins
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-11-20) Micallef, Aaron ; Person, Mark ; Berndt, Christian ; Bertoni, Claudia ; Cohen, Denis ; Dugan, Brandon ; Evans, Rob L. ; Haroon, Amir ; Hensen, Christian ; Jegen, Marion ; Key, Kerry ; Kooi, Henk ; Liebetrau, Volker ; Lofi, Johanna ; Mailloux, Brian J. ; Martin-Nagle, Renée ; Michael, Holly A. ; Müller, Thomas ; Schmidt, Mark ; Schwalenberg, Katrin ; Trembath-Reichert, Elizabeth ; Weymer, Bradley ; Zhang, Yipeng ; Thomas, Ariel T.
    First reported in the 1960s, offshore freshened groundwater (OFG) has now been documented in most continental margins around the world. In this review we compile a database documenting OFG occurrences and analyze it to establish the general characteristics and controlling factors. We also assess methods used to map and characterize OFG, identify major knowledge gaps, and propose strategies to address them. OFG has a global volume of 1 × 106 km3; it predominantly occurs within 55 km of the coast and down to a water depth of 100 m. OFG is mainly hosted within siliciclastic aquifers on passive margins and recharged by meteoric water during Pleistocene sea level lowstands. Key factors influencing OFG distribution are topography-driven flow, salinization via haline convection, permeability contrasts, and the continuity/connectivity of permeable and confining strata. Geochemical and stable isotope measurements of pore waters from boreholes have provided insights into OFG emplacement mechanisms, while recent advances in seismic reflection profiling, electromagnetic surveying, and numerical models have improved our understanding of OFG geometry and controls. Key knowledge gaps, such as the extent and function of OFG, and the timing of their emplacement, can be addressed by the application of isotopic age tracers, joint inversion of electromagnetic and seismic reflection data, and development of three-dimensional hydrological models. We show that such advances, combined with site-specific modeling, are necessary to assess the potential use of OFG as an unconventional source of water and its role in sub-seafloor geomicrobiology.
  • Article
    Oxygen-controlled recirculating seepage meter reveals extent of nitrogen transformation in discharging coastal groundwater at the aquifer-estuary interface
    (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, 2021-06-04) Brooks, Thomas W. ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; Michael, Holly A. ; York, Joanna K.
    Nutrient loads delivered to estuaries via submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) play an important role in the nitrogen (N) budget and eutrophication status. However, accurate and reliable quantification of the chemical flux across the final decimeters and centimeters at the sediment–estuary interface remains a challenge, because there is significant potential for biogeochemical alteration due to contrasting conditions in the coastal aquifer and surface sediment. Here, a novel, oxygen- and light-regulated ultrasonic seepage meter, and a standard seepage meter, were used to measure SGD and calculate N species fluxes across the sediment–estuary interface. Coupling the measurements to an endmember approach based on subsurface N concentrations and an assumption of conservative transport enabled estimation of the extent of transformation occurring in discharging groundwater within the benthic zone. Biogeochemical transformation within reactive estuarine surface sediment was a dominant driver in modifying the N flux carried upward by SGD, and resulted in a similar percentage of N removal (~ 42–52%) as did transformations occurring deeper within the coastal aquifer salinity mixing zone (~ 42–47%). Seasonal shifts in the relative importance of biogeochemical processes including denitrification, nitrification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction, and assimilation altered the composition of the flux to estuarine surface water, which was dominated by ammonium in June and by nitrate in August, despite the endmember-based observation that fixed N in discharging groundwater was strongly dominated by nitrate. This may have important ramifications for the ecology and management of estuaries, since past N loading estimates have generally assumed conservative transport from the nearshore aquifer to estuary.
  • Article
    The coastal transition zone is an underexplored frontier in hydrology and geoscience
    (Nature Research, 2022-12-23) Weymer, Bradley A. ; Everett, Mark E. ; Haroon, Amir ; Jegen-Kulcsar, Marion ; Micallef, Aaron ; Berndt, Christian ; Michael, Holly A. ; Evans, Rob L. ; Post, Vincent
    We have better maps of the surfaces of Venus, Mars, and the Moon than of the Earth’s seafloor. There is even less information available about the geologic structure below the seafloor. In particular, the transition zone deep beneath and crossing the coastline is a very poorly studied frontier resulting from limitations of technology and logistical barriers. Here, we point out the significance of this region for understanding fundamental geologic processes, geohazards, and especially coastal aquifers. One prominent example is the increasing awareness of the importance of groundwater exchange between land and sea. This Perspective defines the region beneath the coastal transition zone, or coastal white ribbon as an underexplored frontier, and highlights the need for characterization of this critical region to depths of tens of km. We discuss available geophysical methods and their limitations with coastal groundwater used as the primary illustration. Advances in geophysical and drilling technology, coupled with numerical modeling, are needed to enable better accounting of this poorly understood component of the geosphere.