Saltwater upconing zone of influence

Danica Jakovovic, Adrian Werner, Perry de Louw, Vincent Post, Leanne Morgan

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    28 Citations (Scopus)


    In this study, we define and characterize the saltwater upconing zone of influence (SUZI). The SUZI is the region around a pumping well within which significant rise in the saltwater-freshwater interface occurs. While the zone of influence of a pumping well can be clearly defined in terms of hydraulics (e.g., drawdown), the SUZI has not been recognised and characterised, despite its importance for groundwater decision-making in coastal regions. We explore the SUZI under various conditions and compare common methods of investigation using both axisymmetric (1D and 2D vertical cross-section) and 3D simulations of saltwater upconing at the field scale, based on a combination of numerical and analytical approaches. The SUZI was found to be dependent on the relative magnitudes of pumping, regional flow, distance of the well from the coast, and position of the well above the interface, as expected. The three-dimensional coastal setting simulations revealed an asymmetric shape of the lateral extent of the SUZI, which is largest in the direction parallel to the coast. This occurs because the ocean and the inland extent of the seawater wedge limit the propagation of the SUZI perpendicular to the coast. Predictions of the SUZI using the Ghyben-Herzberg approximation, including cases where sloping interfaces occur (i.e., in contrast to the artificiality of horizontal interfaces used in axisymmetric approaches), provide reasonable first approximations of the SUZI. Numerical modelling of dispersive upconing in the 3D inclined interface case is influenced by practical limits to the model domain size and grid resolution. For example, the no-flow boundary condition at 1500. m from the pumping well elongates the SUZI in the direction parallel to the coast. This study extends previous concepts of well interference, which have previously been based on hydraulics only, by introducing the SUZI and characterising its extent, with consideration given to differences in commonly adopted methods of upconing quantification.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)75-86
    Number of pages12
    JournalAdvances in Water Resources
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


    • Coastal aquifer
    • Groundwater pumping
    • Numerical modelling
    • Seawater intrusion
    • Sharp interface
    • Well interference


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