Faculté des sciences

Modelling groundwater salinisation in irrigated coastal areas : from solute recycling concepts to quantitative risk assessment

Milnes, Ellen ; Perrochet, Pierre (Dir.)

Thèse de doctorat : Université de Neuchâtel, 2005 ; 1814.

The main objective of this thesis is the quantitative investigation of groundwater salinisation induced by solute recycling from irrigation, and its implications for the overall salinisation in coastal settings. Since the modelling approaches proposed in literature to simulate seawater-intruded areas rarely account for the coupled and superimposed effects of solute recycling and seawater... Plus

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    Summary
    The main objective of this thesis is the quantitative investigation of groundwater salinisation induced by solute recycling from irrigation, and its implications for the overall salinisation in coastal settings. Since the modelling approaches proposed in literature to simulate seawater-intruded areas rarely account for the coupled and superimposed effects of solute recycling and seawater intrusion, simulation procedures have been developed, to evaluate the impact of salinisation induced by seawater intrusion and solute recycling. The problem of solute recycling is identified and illustrated on an example from Cyprus, the Kiti aquifer, where field investigations suggested that the observed salinity distribution is not only related to seawater intrusion, but also to solute recycling. Two numerical simulation scenarios were carried out, with and without solute recycling. The simulation scenario with solute recycling led to a wide saline zone inland, which compared well with field observations and indicates that considerable errors may occur in a predictive solute mass budget if the recycling process is not accounted for in the calculation. A mathematical description of the solute recycling process is first carried out for a 1-D advective system and then extended to arbitrary advective-dispersive systems by means of the transfer function theory. This yields a formulation for the transient solute mass flux at an irrigation well, which is obtained from the solute mass flux captured by the well from the boundaries and the recycling transfer function (RTF). The RTF is derived from the sum of the n-fold convolutions of the travel time probability density function between the irrigated surface and the extraction well. This allows definition of a distributed 'recycling source' in the general form of the advection-dispersion equation. The solute recycling process is thereby reduced to a simple flow and transport problem, allowing evaluation of the effect of solute recycling on spatial groundwater salinisation with any standard groundwater simulation code for average steady state hydraulic conditions. At late times, the 'recycling source' is a function of the capture zone probability and the lateral solute mass flux only and yields the salinisation potential, which describes the maximum salinity distribution that will be attained for the given hydraulic setting in response to solute recycling. The effect of transient hydraulic conditions on groundwater salinisation induced by solute recycling is solved numerically in a time-stepping procedure. Then, a framework for a process-based salinisation risk assessment methodology is proposed in which seawater intrusion and solute recycling salinisation are evaluated separately. By decomposing the overall salinity into a seawater intrusion and solute recycling component, a salinisation risk index is defined as the potential of further salinisation with respect to either salinisation process. The risk index is obtained by comparing the respective 'present state' salinisation with the salinisation potential. The obtained risk index maps reveal areas prone to further salinity increase due to solute recycling and seawater, respectively. In the last section, a 3-D finite element model, reflecting the main features of another aquifer in Cyprus, the Akrotiri aquifer, was used as a 'hypothetical' reality to illustrate the proposed salinisation risk assessment procedure. The results obtained from the simulations indicate zones running danger of further salinisation with respect to solute recycling and seawater intrusion, which correlate with the spatial distribution of the dominant salinity sources derived from field investigations. But they also revealed that data essential for calibration and cross-validation related to solute recycling is rarely monitored in coastal aquifers. This leads to a discussion on the qualitative estimation of key-factors, identified during the mathematical analysis of the solute recycling process, based on classical hydrogeological data. Such estimations can be a preliminary and inexpensive field approach to identify areas potentially endangered by solute recycling, indicating where the installation of monitoring networks would be advisable in order to obtain the data necessary for a quantitative salinisation risk assessment.