Comparison of Sharp Interface to Variable Density Models in Pumping Optimisation of Coastal Aquifers

  • G. KopsiaftisEmail author
  • V. Christelis
  • A. Mantoglou


A number of models have been developed to simulate seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers, which differ in the accuracy level and computational demands, based on the approximation level of the application. In this paper, four seawater intrusion models are employed to calculate the optimal pumping rates in a coastal aquifer management problem. The first model considers both fluid flow and solute transport processes and assumes a variable-density transition zone between saltwater and freshwater. The implementation of the model in simulation-optimisation routines is impractical, due to the computational time required for the simulation. The second model neglects the dispersion mechanism and assumes a sharp interface between saltwater and freshwater. The sharp interface model is significantly faster than the variable density model, however, it may introduce errors in the estimation of the seawater intrusion extent. The remaining two models are modifications of the second model, which intent to correct the inaccuracies of the simplified sharp interface approximation. All four models are utilised to simulate an unconfined coastal aquifer with multiple pumping wells and an optimisation method is used to calculate the maximum allowed pumping rates. The optimisation results are then analysed, in order to examine if the three sharp interface models could provide feasible solutions in the area of the variable density optimum, which is considered as a benchmark solution.


Sharp interface models SEAWAT Pumping optimization Coastal aquifer Seawater intrusion 



A previous shorter version of the paper has been presented in the 10th World Congress of EWRA Panta Rei Athens, Greece, 5-9 July 2017. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their comments in improving the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors would like to declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Technical University of AthensZografouGreece
  2. 2.British Geological SurveyEnvironmental Science CentreNottinghamUK

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