Haline convection within a fresh-saline water interface in a stratified coastal aquifer induced by tide

Elad Ben-Zur, Haim Gvirtzman, Eyal Shalev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sea-tide effects on the fresh-saline water interface (FSI) in a stratified coastal aquifer are examined through laboratory experiments. The physical model, a two-dimensional rectangular flow tank, is filled with layered aquifers and aquitards. The aquifers serve as the main entrances/exits of water to/from the system through significant horizontal flows, creating unstable conditions of heav-ier saline water above lighter freshwater for short periods of time. Several processes create mixing; this instability results in haline convection, creating downward fingering, stable rising of horizontal saltwater front, and unstable upward fingerings of flushing freshwater. The time lag between the sea tide fluctuations and the emergence of adequate fresh-and saltwater is higher in a stratified system compared to a homogeneous system. Furthermore, longer tide cycles lead to the enlarge-ment of the FSI’s toe horizontal movement range. The combination of tidal forcing with a layering aquifer structure leads to a wider FSI by creating a significant salt-and freshwater mixing inside each layer, vertical flows between the layers, and saltwater bodies at isolated areas. Haline convection within the FSI might be the reason for the wider fresh-saline interfaces that are found in field studies.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1780
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Fresh-saline water mixing
  • Groundwater level fluctuations
  • Physical model
  • Sea tide

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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