The magnitude and origin of groundwater discharge to Eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters
Befus, Kevin Martin
Kroeger, Kevin D.
Smith, Christopher G.
Swarzenski, Peter W.
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Fresh groundwater discharge to coastal environments contributes to the physical and chemical conditions of coastal waters, but the role of coastal groundwater at regional to continental scales remains poorly defined due to diverse hydrologic conditions and the difficulty of tracking coastal groundwater flow paths through heterogeneous subsurface materials. We use three-dimensional groundwater flow models for the first time to calculate the magnitude and source areas of groundwater discharge from unconfined aquifers to coastal waterbodies along the entire eastern U.S. We find that 27.1 km3/yr (22.8–30.5 km3/yr) of groundwater directly enters eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. The contributing recharge areas comprised ~175,000 km2 of U.S. land area, extending several kilometers inland. This result provides new information on the land area that can supply natural and anthropogenic constituents to coastal waters via groundwater discharge, thereby defining the subterranean domain potentially affecting coastal chemical budgets and ecosystem processes.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2017. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 44 (2017): 10,396–10,406, doi:10.1002/2017GL075238.
Suggested CitationGeophysical Research Letters 44 (2017): 10,396–10,406
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