Hydrological dynamics between a coastal aquifer and the adjacent estuarine system, Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Jeremy Chenoweth Stalker, Florida International University


Geochemical and geophysical approaches have been used to investigate the freshwater and saltwater dynamics in the coastal Biscayne Aquifer and Biscayne Bay. Stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen, and concentrations of Sr2+ and Ca2+ were combined in two geochemical mixing models to provide estimates of the various freshwater inputs (precipitation, canal water, and groundwater) to Biscayne Bay and the coastal canal system in South Florida. Shallow geophysical electromagnetic and direct current resistivity surveys were used to image the geometry and stratification of the saltwater mixing zone in the near coastal (less than 1km inland) Biscayne Aquifer. The combined stable isotope and trace metal models suggest a ratio of canal input-precipitation-groundwater of 38%–52%–10% in the wet season and 37%–58%–5% in the dry season with an error of 25%, where most (20%) of the error was attributed to the isotope regression model, while the remaining 5% error was attributed to the Sr2+/Ca2+ mixing model. These models suggest rainfall is the dominate source of freshwater to Biscayne Bay. For a bay-wide water budget that includes saltwater and freshwater mixing, fresh groundwater accounts for less than 2% of the total input. A similar Sr 2+/Ca2+ tracer model indicates precipitation is the dominate source in 9 out of 10 canals that discharge into Biscayne Bay. The two-component mixing model converged for 100% of the freshwater canal samples in this study with 63% of the water contributed to the canals coming from precipitation and 37% from groundwater inputs ±4%. There was a seasonal shift from 63% precipitation input in the dry season to 55% precipitation input in the wet season. The three end-member mixing model converged for only 60% of the saline canal samples possibly due to non-conservative behavior of Sr2+ and Ca2+ in saline groundwater discharging into the canal system. Electromagnetic and Direct Current resistivity surveys were successful at locating and estimating the geometry and depth of the freshwater/saltwater interface in the Biscayne Aquifer at two near coastal sites. A saltwater interface that deepened as the survey moved inland was detected with a maximum interpreted depth to the interface of 15 meters, approximately 0.33 km inland from the shoreline. ^

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Recommended Citation

Stalker, Jeremy Chenoweth, "Hydrological dynamics between a coastal aquifer and the adjacent estuarine system, Biscayne Bay, South Florida" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3358440.