Flow dynamics and salt transport in a coastal aquifer driven by a stratified saltwater body: Lab experiment and numerical modeling

Imri Oz*, Eyal Shalev, Yoseph Yechieli, Ittai Gavrieli, Haim Gvirtzman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper examines the transient development and the steady-state configuration of groundwater within a coastal aquifer adjacent to a stratified saltwater body. Such systems consist of three different water types: the regional fresh groundwater, and low and high salinity brines forming the upper and lower water layers of the stratified water body, respectively. The dynamics, location and the geometry of the interfaces and the density-driven circulation flows that develop in the aquifer are examined using laboratory experiments and numerical modeling at the same scale. The results show that the transient intrusion of the different water bodies into the aquifer takes place at different rates, and that the locations of the interfaces between them change with time, before reaching steady-state. Under steady-state conditions both the model and the experiments show the existence of three interfaces between the three water types. The numerical model, which is calibrated against the salinity distribution and groundwater discharge rate in the laboratory experiments, allows the quantification of the flow rates and flow patterns within the aquifer. These flow patterns, which cannot be derived from laboratory experiments, show the transient development of three circulation cells which are confined between the three interfaces. These results confirm the hypothesis that has been previously suggested based solely on a steady-state numerical modeling defined by a conceptual understanding. Parametric analysis shows that the creation of three circulation cells and three interfaces is limited to certain conditions and defines the ranges for the creation of this unique system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)665-674
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - 16 Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Israeli Water Authority for its grant to IO. The research reported in this paper was carried out as part of the GSI project on the infrastructure instability along the Dead Sea, and was partly supported by funding from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF 958/13).


  • Interface
  • Intrusion
  • Laboratory experiment
  • Numerical model
  • Salinity
  • Stratification


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