The importance of submarine groundwater discharge to the near shore nutrient supply in the Gulf of Aqaba (Israel)

Shellenbarger, Gregory G., Stephen G. Monismith, Amatzia Genin, Adina Paytan

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(4), 2006, 1876-1886 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.4.1876

ABSTRACT: We used two short-lived radium isotopes (223Ra, 224Ra) and a mass balance approach applied to the radium activities to determine the nutrient contribution of saline submarine groundwater discharge to the coastal waters of the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Israel). Radium isotope activities were measured along transects during two seasons at a site that lacked any obvious surficial water input. An onshore well and an offshore end member were also sampled. For all samples, nutrients and salinity data were collected. Radium isotope activities generally decreased with distance offshore and exhibited significant tidal variability, which is consistent with a shorederived tidally influenced source. Submarine groundwater contributes only 1-2% of the water along this coast, but this groundwater provides 8-46% of the nutrients. This saline groundwater is derived predominately from tidally pumped seawater percolating through the unconfined coastal aquifer and leaching radium and nutrients. This process represents a significant source of nutrients to the oligotrophic nearshore reef.

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