Measurement of submarine groundwater discharge in Kahana Bay, O'ahu, Hawai'i

Garrison, G. H., C. R. Glenn, G. M. McMurtry

Limnol. Oceanogr., 48(2), 2003, 920-928 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2003.48.2.0920

ABSTRACT: Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is neither well understood nor commonly investigated in Hawai‘i, but it is recognized as a potential pollution source to coastal environments. Between 1998 and 2000, this study located and quantified both total SGD and the terrestrial SGD fraction (ƒtgw) in Kahana Bay, O‘ahu. CTD casts were used to profile the water structure and identify potential areas of SGD impact in the bay. Lee-type seepage meters were used to measure SGD rates and collect samples of SGD directly. Radon-222, Si, Cl-, and total alkalinity (Ta) were used as natural tracers to measure the terrestrial groundwater fraction within SGD. Nutrient concentrations were also measured to calculate total nutrient fluxes into the bay via SGD. Ninety percent of the SGD in Kahana Bay occurs in the inner bay within 1 km of the shoreline. The average total SGD flux measured was 90 x 106 L d-1, 16% of which was terrestrial groundwater. By comparison, the average annual surface runoff from Kahana River is 90.7 106 L d-1. Estimated fluxes of total dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen by SGD to the bay were 500 and 200% greater than fluxes via surface runoff, respectively. Thus, SGD in Kahana Bay has proved to be a significant source of both freshwater and total nutrient input comparable to that from the surface runoff of Kahana River.

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