COI Funded Project: High-Resolution Geophysical Imaging of Coastal Aquifers: Does Geological Framework Control Groundwater Discharge?


Project Funded: 2002

Proposed Research

Subsurface geological conduits play a critical role in groundwater and nutrient supply to the margins of continents and islands. To date, little is known about the subsurface pathways by which terrestrial groundwater is transported to the seafloor and how it interacts with seawater in coastal aquifers. Subterranean water conduits, such as buried fluvial paleo-channels and glacial sapping channels constitute high-permeability pathways between continental and marine reservoirs and play an important role in landscape evolution. Understanding the complex hydrological interactions in the coastal zone requires the use of techniques for both delineating channel features as well as constraining the physical properties of channels and adjoining deposits essential in fluid transport.

We propose to study the role of geological framework, including paleo-channel distribution, geometry, and physical properties in groundwater transport through a combination of high-resolution geophysical studies. Our field program will consist of supratidal ground-penetrating radar (GPR) profiles and intertidal EM surveys along the south shore of Martha's Vineyard and several coastal segments of the upper Cape Cod. The similarity between the GPR and EM techniques will allow us to link the two databases and demonstrate the viability of this integrated approach to geological and hydrological research in other coastal settings.