A proper management of fresh groundwater lenses in small islands is required in order to avoid or at least limit uncontrolled saltwater intrusion and guarantee the availability of the resource even during drought occurrences. An accurate estimation of the freshwater volume stored in the subsoil is a key step in the water management decision process. This study focused on understanding the hydrogeological system behaviour and on assessing the sustainable use of the groundwater resource in Nauru Atoll Island (Pacific Ocean). A first phase, concerning the hydrogeological characterization of the island, highlighted the occurrence of few drought-resilient freshwater lenses along the seashore. The second part of the study focused on the characterization of a freshwater lens found in the northern coastal area and identified such area as the most suitable for the development of groundwater infrastructures for water withdrawal. The characterization activities allowed quantifying the freshwater lens thickness and volume in order to assess the capability to satisfy the population water demand. A geo-electrical tomography survey was carried out, and a 3D density-dependent numerical model was implemented in SEAWAT. The model results demonstrated that in small islands freshwater can unexpectedly accumulate underground right along the seashore and not in the centre of the island as is commonly believed. Furthermore, the model can constitute a useful tool to manage the groundwater resources and would allow the design of sustainable groundwater exploitation systems, avoiding saltwater intrusion worsening.

Evaluation of Fresh Groundwater Lens Volume and Its Possible Use in Nauru Island

Alberti L.;Antelmi M.;Oberto G.;La Licata I.;Mazzon P.
2022-01-01

Abstract

A proper management of fresh groundwater lenses in small islands is required in order to avoid or at least limit uncontrolled saltwater intrusion and guarantee the availability of the resource even during drought occurrences. An accurate estimation of the freshwater volume stored in the subsoil is a key step in the water management decision process. This study focused on understanding the hydrogeological system behaviour and on assessing the sustainable use of the groundwater resource in Nauru Atoll Island (Pacific Ocean). A first phase, concerning the hydrogeological characterization of the island, highlighted the occurrence of few drought-resilient freshwater lenses along the seashore. The second part of the study focused on the characterization of a freshwater lens found in the northern coastal area and identified such area as the most suitable for the development of groundwater infrastructures for water withdrawal. The characterization activities allowed quantifying the freshwater lens thickness and volume in order to assess the capability to satisfy the population water demand. A geo-electrical tomography survey was carried out, and a 3D density-dependent numerical model was implemented in SEAWAT. The model results demonstrated that in small islands freshwater can unexpectedly accumulate underground right along the seashore and not in the centre of the island as is commonly believed. Furthermore, the model can constitute a useful tool to manage the groundwater resources and would allow the design of sustainable groundwater exploitation systems, avoiding saltwater intrusion worsening.
small island; groundwater storage; groundwater management; geo-electrical survey; density-dependent model; SEAWAT; water security
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1223729
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