, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 53–67 | Cite as

Submarine groundwater discharge from tropical islands: a review

  • Nils MoosdorfEmail author
  • Thomas Stieglitz
  • Hannelore Waska
  • Hans H. Dürr
  • Jens Hartmann


Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is a rarely recognized pathway for nutrients and other solutes from land to sea. The sensitive coastal ecosystems around tropical islands could be particularly affected by nutrient discharge associated with SGD in relation to surficial nutrient transport by rivers, but have received comparatively little attention to date. This study reviews the findings of local assessments of submarine groundwater discharge from tropical islands. In addition, the ratio of coast length and land area of individual land bodies is suggested as an appropriate first-order estimate of the relevance of SGD versus river discharge, demonstrating the potential relative importance of SGD from tropical islands over rivers. The review highlights the need for targeted research of submarine groundwater discharge from tropical islands and highlights its relevance for biogeochemical fluxes in these geographic settings.


Submarine groundwater discharge Biogeochemistry Coastal zone Nutrient Tropical island 

Submariner Grundwasserabfluss von tropischen Inseln – Ein Review


Submariner Grundwasserabfluss (SGD) vom Land in die Ozeane ist ein wenig beachteter Transportweg für gelöste Stoffe. Existierende Studien betonen allerdings seine Wichtigkeit für die Nährstoffversorgung der Küstengewässer. Insbesondere in Küstenökosystemen im Bereich tropischer Inseln kann SGD im Verhältnis zum Flusseintrag die Nährstoffbudgets dominieren, dort hat SGD aber bisher nur wenig Interesse erfahren. Diese Studie beleuchtet die Erkenntnisse lokaler Untersuchungen des SGD tropischer Inseln. Darüber hinaus wird das Verhältnis von Küstenlänge und Landfläche einer Insel als grobe Abschätzung des Verhältnisses von SGD und Flusseinträgen vorgeschlagen und damit die potenzielle Wichtigkeit von SGD von tropischen Inseln gezeigt. Das Review zeigt den Bedarf an systematischen Feldstudien über SGD von tropischen Inseln und hebt dessen Bedeutung für biogeochemische Stoffkreisläufe dieser Regionen hervor.



Nils Moosdorf is funded by the BMBF Project “SGD-NUT” (Grant 01LN1307A). Jens Hartmann is supported through the German Research Foundation (EXC177). This research utilized the Global Coastline Dataset v1 copyrighted by ISCIENCES, L.L.C.,; we acknowledge ISCIENCES L.L.C. to provide it free of charge for our research. We also acknowledge the field scientists who collected the data we now combine. Two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged, whose comments helped to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nils Moosdorf
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Stieglitz
    • 2
  • Hannelore Waska
    • 3
  • Hans H. Dürr
    • 4
  • Jens Hartmann
    • 5
  1. 1.Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)BremenGermany
  2. 2.School of Engineering & Physical Sciences and Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem ResearchJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Research Group for Marine Geochemistry (ICBM-MPI Bridging Group), Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)University of OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  5. 5.Institute for Geology, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN)Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

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