Delineating coastal groundwater discharge processes in a wetland area by means of electrical resistivity imaging, 224Ra and 222Rn

Mario Zarroca, Valentí Rodellas, Jordi Garcia-Orellana, Joan Bach, Pere Masqué, Rogelio Linares, Carles Roqué

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal groundwater discharge (CGD) plays an important role in coastal hydrogeological systems as they are a water resource that needs to be managed, particularly in wetland areas. Despite its importance, identifying and monitoring CGD often presents physical and logistical constraints, restraining the application of more traditional submarine groundwater discharge surveying techniques. Here we investigate the capability of electrical resistivity imaging (ERI) in the Peníscola wetland (Mediterranean coast, Spain). ERI surveying made it possible to identify and delineate an ascending regional groundwater flow of thermal and Ra-enriched groundwater converging with local flows and seawater intrusion. The continuous inputs of Ra-rich groundwater have induced high activities of Ra isotopes and 222Rn into the marsh area, becoming among the highest previously reported in wetlands and coastal lagoons. Geoelectrical imaging enabled inferring focused upward discharging areas, leaking from the aquifer roof through a confining unit and culminating as spring pools nourishing the wetland system. Forward modelling over idealized subsurface configurations, borehole datasets, potentiometric records from standpipe piezometers, petrophysical analysis, and four natural and independent tracers (224Ra, 222Rn, temperature and salinity) permitted assessing the geoelectrical model and a derived hydrogeological pattern. The research highlights the potential of ERI to improve hydrogeological characterization of subsurface processes in complex contexts, with different converging flows. Additionally, a hydrogeological conceptual model for a groundwater-fed coastal wetland was proposed, based on the integration of surveying datasets. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2014


  • Electrical resistivity imaging (ERI)
  • Groundwater discharge
  • Hydro-geophysics
  • Peníscola marsh
  • Radium
  • Radon


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