Methodological study of submarine groundwater discharge from a karstic aquifer in the Western Mediterranean Sea

Miguel Mejías, Bruno J. Ballesteros, Carmen Antón-Pacheco, José A. Domínguez, Jordi Garcia-Orellana, Ester Garcia-Solsona, Pere Masqué

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65 Citations (Scopus)


A multiproxy approach of complementary techniques is applied to localise and quantify submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) from El Maestrazgo Jurassic aquifer, an example of widespread carbonate coastal aquifer of the Western Mediterranean Sea (Castellón, Spain). Unconventional water resources are critical in this area where highly populated resorts have been developed. The aquifer has two main features of particular interest: a karstic system with a deep saturated zone reaching 450. m and with no significant surface discharge occurring within the continental area. On the other hand, SGD can alter the condition of coastal marine environments, reducing salinities and providing nutrients that can cause eutrophication and algal blooms. The applied combined techniques make it possible to detect groundwater outflows using airborne thermal infrared (TIR) images to monitor physico-chemical anomalies in the sea and to quantify the submarine groundwater discharges by means of direct measurements and radium isotopic analyses. Three main coastal areas affected by SGD and a submarine spring located at 3km from the coast, which seems to be associated with tectonic discontinuities, were localised. The calculated fresh SGD from Ra isotopes, 375Mm 3y -1, is in agreement with the mean aquifer recharge obtained by hydrogeological methods, 394 Mm 3y -1. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2012


  • Coastal karstic aquifer
  • Coastal springs
  • El Maestrazgo (Spain)
  • Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD)
  • Thermal infrared images


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