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Hydraulic and geochemical impact of occasional saltwater intrusions through a submarine spring in a karst and thermal aquifer (Balaruc peninsula near Montpellier, France)

Abstract : Submarine springs are a common discharge feature of the karst aquifers along the Mediterranean coast. In some instances, occasional and localized saltwater intrusions can occur through the submarine spring and negatively impact the quality of the groundwater resource. The hydraulic and geochemical behavior of a submarine spring discharging into the Thau lagoon just offshore of the Balaruc peninsula near Montpellier, France has been characterized to determine the impacts of such phenomena to better understand the dynamics of a regional karst aquifer and improve its groundwater management. This work is based on both historical and new hydrogeological and geochemical data, illustrating 6 occasional saltwater intrusion events (from 1967 to 2014) in the Thau lagoon area (southern France). Hydraulic perturbation of the aquifer is propagated instantly within the Balaruc-les-Bains peninsula and reaches a distance of about 5 km upgradient within 9 days. Comparison of hydraulic heads during seawater intrusion events in 2010 and 2014 indicates an aggravation of the phenomenon with an increase in hydraulic head variations. In contrast, isotopic tracers (87 Sr/ 86 Sr, D/H, 18 O/ 16 O,) and Rare Earth Elements (REE) demonstrate that the geochemical impact of these inversac events is only observed at the local scale, but is still perceptible several years after the event. For example, some of the thermal wells had not recovered their initial geochemical state 20 and 40 months after the last two inversac events (2010 and 2014, respectively), suggesting a geochemical legacy of this phenomenon within the complex karst system. By contrast, an adjacent deep karst compartment 2located south of the study area is not affected by the saltwater intrusion and is characterized by distinctly different hydrodynamic behavior.Overall, this work onoccasionaland localized saltwater intrusions constitutes a key step in understanding the dynamics of this complex karstic and thermal aquifer and will support the management of the groundwater resource.
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Soumis le : vendredi 6 novembre 2020 - 10:14:52
Dernière modification le : mercredi 18 novembre 2020 - 11:02:03

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Marie-Amélie Pétré, Bernard Ladouche, Jean‐luc Seidel, Romain Hemelsdaël, Véronique de Montety, et al.. Hydraulic and geochemical impact of occasional saltwater intrusions through a submarine spring in a karst and thermal aquifer (Balaruc peninsula near Montpellier, France). Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, European Geosciences Union, 2020, ⟨10.5194/hess-2020-292⟩. ⟨hal-02991728⟩

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