Seepage Meter for Measuring Submarine Groundwater Discharge


M. Charette

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Groundwater discharge often occurs as submerged springs in coastal marine environments, even though land based rivers may not be present.  Water sources can be miles inland, such as in orographic rain zones.  Finding such offshore springs in arid regions can be a source of drinking water or a source of less-salty water for desalination.  Having an accurate means to determine water quality and flow rates is critical to evaluating the feasability of exploiting this natural resource.


The invention is an automated seepage meter that can detect and quantify groundwater outflow and seawater infiltration.  In addition to its capabilities in saltwater-influenced systems, the automated seepage meter can detect and quantify groundwater outflow and surface water infiltration in freshwater systems (e.g., aquatic, riverine, lacustrine environments).  Based on a dye-dilution technique, this instrument provides high resolution time series data for submarine groundwater discharge to the coastal zone. The dye dilution method employs two repeatable steps: the timed injection of a water-soluble dye into a dye mixing chamber mounted in series with a seepage or collection chamber and the subsequent timed measurements of the absorbance of the dyed solution.  The design allows simultaneous and accurate water quality measurements of discharge water.


  • Scientific investigation of groundwater infiltration to aquatic systems
  • Characterization of subsurface water discharge flow
  • Feasibility analysis for exploitation of fresh water resources

Key Benefits

  • Absolute net flow velocity determination
  • Automated robust device for long-term flow profile determination
  • Simultaneous determination of water quality

Stage of Development

Working prototypes are in use for scientific research.

Patent Number

US Patent 20080196509

Relevant Industry

Water Resources Management