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Estimation of coastal aquifer properties: A review of the tidal method based on theoretical solutions

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Abstract Determination of the hydraulic properties of coastal aquifer systems has important implications that are related to the issues such as seawater intrusion, submarine groundwater discharge, migration of contaminants, assessment of water resources, and geotechnical engineering. Over recent decades, many analytical solutions that consider different types of coastal aquifer systems or models have been developed. These solutions can be used as a theoretical basis for the tidal method that characterizes the hydraulic properties of a coastal aquifer system using hydraulic response measurements in an observation well or wells induced by tidal waves in the ocean. The hydraulic properties of an aquifer can be estimated through fitting a series of time‐dependent changes of hydraulic head detected in an observation well to those calculated based on theoretical solutions. For simplicity, most theoretical solutions only consider one tidal component and idealized boundary conditions, although in reality multiple tidal components exist simultaneously and boundary conditions can be more complicated. For practical applications of the tidal method and to increase its reliability, multiple tidal components should be considered and models considering more complicated boundary conditions should be developed. In addition, methods that can determine both the hydraulic conductivity and storage coefficient, rather than only the hydraulic diffusivity, that is, the ratio of hydraulic conductivity to storage coefficient of coastal aquifer, should be developed. Cautions should be taken into account when using the tidal method because earth tides and changes in local atmospheric pressure may induce similar tidal fluctuations in the hydraulic head within inland observation wells. This article is categorized under: Science of Water > Hydrological Processes Science of Water > Methods
Conceptual model for the confined coastal aquifer with its hydraulic conductivity, K, increases linearly with the distance from the coastline. b is a constant. This figure is produced based on the schematic concept of fig. 1 in Monachesi and Guarracino (2011)
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Conceptual model for the U‐shaped coastal aquifer system in which two estuary‐land boundaries and the ocean‐land boundary are considered. Four zones are classified based on interaction behavior of the oceanic and estuarine tidal waves. Coordinates of x and y are normalized with respect to the length, L, of ocean shore between the two opposite estuaries. The figure is reprinted based on the schematic concept of fig. 2 in Huang et al. (2015)
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Conceptual model for the L‐shaped, three‐layer coastal aquifer system which consists of a leaky confined aquifer, overlapped with a semi‐permeable layer, and then an unconfined aquifer on the top. The tidal attenuation in the estuary (one water‐land boundary), the leakage, layer thickness (b′), vertical permeability (K′), and specific storativity (Ss′) of the semi‐permeable layer, the transmissivity (T) and storativity of the leaky confined aquifer (S) are considered. The figure is reprinted based on the schematic concept of fig. 1 in Li & Jiao (2002b)
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Conceptual models for the L‐shaped, single‐layer model. (a) is produced based on the schematic concept of fig. 1 in Sun (1997); and (b) is produced based on the schematic concepts of fig. 1(d) in Li, Barry, Cunningham, Stagnitti, and Parlange (2000) as well as fig. 1 in Li, Jiao, Luk, and Cheung (2002)
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Conceptual model for the heterogeneous, three‐layer coastal aquifer system. This figure is reprinted based on fig. 1 in Asadi‐Aghbolaghi et al. (2014) in which T and S denote the transmissivity and storativity, respectively, and the subscripts to them denote different areas
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Comparison between simulated and observed hydraulic head fluctuations in Well #3808 built at a field site at the Seine River estuary, France. The figure is reprinted using the data from fig. 6 in Zhao et al. (2019)
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The effects of leakage, L, and the effects of aquifer length, l, on the response of hydraulic head in the leaky confined aquifer bounded with different inland conditions. The figures are reproduced using the data for producing figs. 2 and 3 in Zhao et al. (2019), respectively. The transmissivity, T, storativity, S, amplitude of tidal fluctuation, tidal angular velocity, ω, and the initial phase, φ, were assumed to be 2,000 m2d−1, 0.0001, 1 m, 2π d−1, and 0, respectively
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Conceptual models for the homogenous, three‐layer coastal aquifer systems. (a) is produced based on fig. 1 in Jiao and Tang (1999); (b) is produced based on fig. 1 in Li and Jiao (2001); (c) is produced based on fig. 1 in Li and Jiao (2002a); and (d) is produced based on fig. 1 in Huang, Yeh, and Chang (2012)
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Conceptual model for the two‐layer, island aquifer system subject to dual tide. This figure is produced based on the schematic concept of fig. 1 in Sun et al. (2008)
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Conceptual models for the unconfined coastal aquifer systems. (a) is produced based on fig. 1 in Yeh et al. (2010) in which Kx, Kz, and Ss denote the horizontal and vertical hydraulic conductivities, and the specific storage, respectively; (b) is produced based on fig. 1 in Guo, Jiao, and Li (2010) in which T and S denote the transmissivity and storativity, respectively, and the subscripts to them denote different zones; (c) is produced based on fig. 1 in Rotzoll, EI‐Dadi, and Gingerich (2008)
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Science of Water > Hydrological Processes

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