Articles | Volume 7, issue 9
07 Sep 2010
 | 07 Sep 2010

Groundwater and nutrient discharge through karstic coastal springs (Castelló, Spain)

E. Garcia-Solsona, J. Garcia-Orellana, P. Masqué, V. Rodellas, M. Mejías, B. Ballesteros, and J. A. Domínguez

Abstract. Discharge of groundwater and associated chemical compounds into coastal karstic regions, which are abundant in the Mediterranean basin, is envisaged to be significant. In this study, we evaluate the groundwater discharge and its nutrient load to the open karstic site of Badum (Castelló, East Spain). Salinity profiles evidenced that groundwater discharge from coastal brackish springs causes a buoyant fresher layer, as identified with thermal infrared images. Chemical tracers (radium isotopes, dissolved inorganic silicate and seawater major elements) have been used to determine a brackish groundwater proportion in coastal waters of 36% in October 2006 and 44% in June 2007. Based on a radium-derived residence time of 2.7 days in October 2006 and 2.0 days in June 2007, total SGD fluxes have been estimated in 71 500 and 187 000 m3 d−1, respectively, with fresh-SGD contributions representing 71% and 85%. The calculated SGD-associated nutrient fluxes, most likely of natural origin, were 1500 and 8300 μmol m−2 d−1 of DIN and 19 and 40 μmol m−2 d−1 of DIP in October 2006 and June 2007, respectively. These inputs may actually lead to or enhance P limitation, thereby altering the structure of biological communities in the area.

Final-revised paper