The extent of seawater circulation in the aquifer and its role in elemental mass balances: A lesson from the Dead Sea

Yael Kiro, Yishai Weinstein, Abraham Starinsky, Yoseph Yechieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper shows for the first time a field-based estimation of the volume of dispersive density-driven long-term seawater circulation in coastal aquifers, which is crucial to the understanding of water-rock interaction and to the assessment of its potential impact on elemental mass balances in the sea. The Dead Sea is an ideal place for studying this type of circulation due to the absence of tides and the accessibility of the shallow fresh-saline transition zone. The unique antithetical behavior of Ra-226 and Ra-228 during seawater circulation in the Dead Sea aquifer, where Ra-228 is added and Ra-226 is removed, provides a robust new method for quantifying aquifer circulation. Here we estimate water circulation through the Dead Sea aquifer to be 400 million m(3)/yr (similar to 2.5 million m(3)/yr per 1 km of shoreline), which is similar to 20% of the fresh water inflow prior to the 1960s. This large volume can affect trace element concentrations in the Dead Sea, e.g. it is a sink for Ra-226, Ba and U and a source for Ra-228 and Fe. These results suggest that dispersive density-driven seawater circulation in aquifers may play an important role in mass balances in other lacustrine and oceanic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-158
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume394
Early online date2 Apr 2014
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 May 2014

Keywords

  • Dead Sea
  • Radium
  • Seawater circulation in aquifers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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