Study of Saltwater Intrusion in the Coastal Aquifers under Transient Condition using Image Processing and Numerical Modelling

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D. Student, Department of Civil engineering, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Civil engineering, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran

3 Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Robotic Engineering, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran


Understanding the problem of saltwater intrusion under transient condition has an effective role in the management of coastal groundwater resources. In this study, the transient dynamics of the saltwater wedge and mixing zone was investigated in an aquifer with head-controlled system both numerically and experimentally. The experimental data were acquired using image processing and numerical simulations were conducted by SUTRA code. In order to study the saltwater wedge behavior in transient condition, in addition to examining the changes of the indicator of wedge toe length (that was used in most of the previous experimental and numerical studies), changes in indicator of the saltwater wedge height on the sea boundary were measured too. The results demonstrated that in the case of the advancing wedge, the wedge height reaches the steady state condition sooner than the wedge toe length, while in the case of the receding wedge, both indicators are stabilized simultaneously. Furthermore, the results for mixing zone showed that due to flushing and mixing process, the mixing zone expanded at early stages of the receding period. As the wedge approaches the steady state condition, the flushing and mixing process were stopped and mixing zone condensed gradually.


Abarca, E., Carrera, J., Sánchez-Vila, X. and Dentz, M., (2007). “Anisotropic dispersive Henry problem”. Advances in Water Resources. 30(4), 913–926.
Abarca, E. and Clement, T.P., (2009). “A novel approach for characterizing the mixing zone of a saltwater wedge”. Geophysical Research Letters. 36(6), 1–5.
Chang, S. W. and Clement, T. P., (2012). “Experimental and numerical investigation of saltwater intrusion dynamics in flux-controlled groundwater systems”. 48(March), 1–10.    
Goswami, R. R. and Clement, T. P., (2007). “Laboratory-scale investigation of saltwater intrusion dynamics”. Water Resources Research. 43(4), 1–11.
Kuan, W. K., Jin, G., Xin, P., Robinson, C., Gibbes, B. and Li, L., (2012). “Tidal influence on seawater intrusion in unconfined coastal aquifers”.Water Resources Research. 48:W02502
Lu, C., Chen, Y., Zhang, C. and Luo, J., (2013). “Steady-state freshwater-seawater mixing zone in stratified coastal aquifers”. Journal of Hydrology. 505, 24–34.
Lu, C. and Werner, A. D., (2013). “Timescales of seawater intrusion and retreat”. Advances in Water Resources. 59, 39–51.
Luyun, R., Momii, K. and Nakagawa, K., (2009). “Laboratory-scale saltwater behavior due to subsurface cutoff wall”. Journal of Hydrology. 377(3-4), 227–236.
Mehdizadeh, S. S., Werner, A. D., Vafaie, F. and Badaruddin, S., (2014). “Vertical leakage in sharp-interface seawater intrusion models of layered coastal aquifers”. Journal of Hydrology, 519, 1097–1107 .
Mehdizadeh .S.S., Vafaei, F. and Abolghasemi. H., (2015). “Assessment of sharp-interface approach for saltwater intrusion”. Environ Earth Sci., 73, 8345–8355. doi. 10.1007/s12665-014-3996-9  
Oz, I., Shalev, E., Yechieli, Y., Gavrieli, I. and Gvirtzman, H., (2014). “Flow dynamics and salt transport in a coastal aquifer driven by a stratified saltwater body: Lab experiment and numerical modeling”. Journal of Hydrology. 511, 665–674.   
Oz, I., Shalev, E., Yechieli, Y. and Gvirtzman, H., (2015). “Saltwater circulation patterns within the freshwater-saltwater interface in coastal aquifers: Laboratory experiments and numerical modeling”. Journal of Hydrology. 530, 734–741.
Robinson, G., Ahmed, A. A. and Hamill, G. A., (2016). “Experimental saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers using automated image analysis: Applications to homogeneous aquifers”. Journal of Hydrology. 538, 304–313.
Robinson, G., Hamill, G. A. and Ahmed, A. A., (2015). “Automated image analysis for experimental investigations of salt water intrusion in coastal aquifers”. Journal of Hydrology. 530, 350–360.
Voss, C. and Provost, A., (2010). “SUTRA—a Model for saturated–unsaturated, variable density, Ground-water flow with Solute or energy transport, 2010.” US Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report, 02-4231
Werner, A. D., Bakker, M., Post, V. E. A.,
Vandenbohede, A., Lu, C., Ataie-Ashtiani, B., Simmons C.T. and Barty, D.A., (2013). “Seawater intrusion processes, investigation and management: Recent advances and future challenges”. Advances in Water Resources. 51, 3–26.