, Volume 64, Issue 7, pp 1885-1909
Date: 22 Apr 2011

Hydrochemical and isotopic characterisation of groundwaters to define aquifer type and connectivity in a subtropical coastal setting, Fraser Coast, Queensland

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Physico-chemical parameters, major ion chemistry and isotope composition of surface and groundwaters were determined in forested coastal catchments and adjacent coastal plains. Results showed obvious characterisation related to physical and hydrological setting, and highly variable spatial differences reflecting the complexities of these areas. All these coastal waters are dominated by Na–Cl and fall on a common dilution line; hydrochemical grouping is largely due to anionic differences (Cl, SO4 and HCO3), although Na and Mg ratios also vary. Six major hydrochemical facies were determined. For groundwaters, compositional differences are largely related to aquifer material and level of confinement; for coastal groundwaters important are tidal effects and proximity to the shoreline. Differentiation for surface waters is mainly by drainage morphology, flow regime plus proximity to the coast. Connectivity between water bodies is reflected by minor base flow to catchment streams, including with flood plain wetlands, but mostly occurs in low-lying zones where there is mixing of fresh and saline water within surface water and subterranean estuaries, or by seawater intrusion enhanced by overuse. Oxygen and hydrogen isotopic data for confined and semi-confined groundwaters along the coast indicates local recharge; fresh surface waters in the elevated catchments are shown to be sourced further inland plus have experienced evaporation.