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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-292
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-292
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  09 Jul 2020

09 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Hydraulic and geochemical impact of occasional saltwater intrusions through a submarine spring in a karst and thermal aquifer (Balaruc peninsula near Montpellier, France)

Marie-Amélie Pétré1,a, Bernard Ladouche2, Jean-Luc Seidel1, Romain Hemelsdaël3, Véronique de Montety1, Christelle Batiot-Guilhe1, and Claudine Lamotte2 Marie-Amélie Pétré et al.
  • 1HydroSciences Montpellier, Montpellier University, CNRS,IRD, Montpellier, France
  • 2BRGM, Montpellier University, Montpellier, France
  • 3Geosciences Montpellier, Montpellier University, CNRS, Montpellier, France
  • anow at: North Carolina State University, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences Department, Raleigh, NC 27695, United States

Abstract. Submarine springs are a common discharge feature of the karst aquifers along the Mediterranean coast. In some instances, occasional and localized saltwater intrusions can occur through the submarine spring and negatively impact the quality of the groundwater resource. The hydraulic and geochemical behavior of a submarine spring discharging into the Thau lagoon just offshore of the Balaruc peninsula near Montpellier, France has been characterized to determine the impacts of such phenomena to better understand the dynamics of a regional karst aquifer and improve its groundwater management. This work is based on both historical and new hydrogeological and geochemical data, illustrating 6 occasional saltwater intrusion events (from 1967 to 2014) in the Thau lagoon area (southern France).

Hydraulic perturbation of the aquifer is propagated instantly within the Balaruc-les-Bains peninsula and reaches a distance of about 5 km upgradient within 9 days. Comparison of hydraulic heads during seawater intrusion events in 2010 and 2014 indicates an aggravation of the phenomenon with an increase in hydraulic head variations.

In contrast, isotopic tracers (87Sr/86Sr, D/H, 18O/16O,) and Rare Earth Elements (REE) demonstrate that the geochemical impact of these inversac events is only observed at the local scale, but is still perceptible several years after the event. For example, some of the thermal wells had not recovered their initial geochemical state 20 and 40 months after the last two inversac events (2010 and 2014, respectively), suggesting a geochemical legacy of this phenomenon within the complex karst system. By contrast, an adjacent deep karst compartment located south of the study area is not affected by the saltwater intrusion and is characterized by distinctly different hydrodynamic behavior.

Overall, this work on occasional and localized saltwater intrusions constitutes a key step in understanding the dynamics of this complex karstic and thermal aquifer and will support the management of the groundwater resource.

Marie-Amélie Pétré et al.

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Hydraulic and geochemical impact of occasional saltwater intrusions through a submarine spring in a karst and thermal aquifer (Balaruc peninsula near Montpellier, France) Marie-Amélie Pétré, Bernard Ladouche, Seidel, Romain Hemelsdaël, Véronique de Montety, Christelle Batiot-Guilhe, and Claudine Lamotte https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3893897

Marie-Amélie Pétré et al.

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Short summary
We studied the impact of occasional saltwater intrusions into the karst aquifer of the Balaruc peninsula (France). Using hydrogeological and geochemical data, this study shows that the hydraulic impact on the aquifer is rapid and of regional extent, whereas the geochemical impact is observed at the local scale and is temporally persistent. This research supports groundwater management by providing a better understanding of the hydrodynamics and recovery of the aquifer after saltwater intrusions.
We studied the impact of occasional saltwater intrusions into the karst aquifer of the Balaruc...
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