Upward groundwater flow in boils as the dominant mechanism of salinization in deep polders, The Netherlands

Perry G B de Louw, G. H P Oude Essink, P. J. Stuyfzand, S. E A T M van der Zee

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45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As upward seepage of saline groundwater from the upper aquifer is leading to surface water salinization of deep polders in the Netherlands, we monitored the processes involved in the Noordplas Polder, a typical deep polder. Our results show three types of seepage: (1) diffuse seepage through the Holocene confining layer, (2) seepage through paleochannel belts in the Holocene layer, and (3) intense seepage via localized boils. They differ with regard to seepage flux, chloride concentration, and their location in the polder; thus, their contributions to surface water salinization also differ. Permeable, sandy paleochannel belts cut through the lower part of the Holocene layer, resulting in higher seepage fluxes than the diffuse seepage through the Holocene layer where there are no paleochannels. The average chloride concentration of paleochannel seepage is about 600. mg/l, which is sixfold higher than the average concentration of diffuse seepage. The highest seepage fluxes and chloride concentrations are found at boils, which are small vents in the Holocene layer through which groundwater preferentially discharges at high velocities. This results in upconing of deeper and more saline groundwater, which produces an average chloride concentration of 1100. mg/l. Despite the fact that seepage fluxes are difficult to measure, we were able to calculate that boils contribute more than 50% of the total chloride load entering the Noordplas Polder and they therefore form the dominant salinization pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-506
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume394
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Boils
  • Chloride load
  • Deep polder
  • Preferential flow
  • Salinization
  • Seepage

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