Saltwater intrusion in an irrigated agricultural area: combining density-dependent modeling and geophysical methods

  • N. N. Kourgialas
  • Z. Dokou
  • G. P. Karatzas
  • G. Panagopoulos
  • P. Soupios
  • A. Vafidis
  • E. Manoutsoglou
  • M. Schafmeister
Original Article


Saltwater intrusion is one of the most important water quality problems in coastal aquifers, especially in areas with increased water demands. Geophysical techniques can provide a non-invasive and cost-effective approach for determining the geometrical characteristics of an aquifer and for guiding the saltwater intrusion modeling process and in turn reducing the model’s inherent uncertainty. In this work, the above concept was applied in the Tympaki basin in Heraklion, Greece. The transient electromagnetic method was used to obtain an accurate 3-D geomodel (bedrock geometry and fault detection) of the basin. This, in turn, was used to guide the construction of a density-dependent groundwater flow and transport simulation model. The results show significant advancement of the saltwater intrusion front in the northern part of the study area, while the phenomenon is less pronounced in the central and southern parts. This is mainly attributed to the combined effect of the fault in the northern part of the basin, the uplifted Neogene deposits in the central part and the freshwater inflow from the Festos corridor in the southern part.


Saltwater intrusion Groundwater Density-dependent modeling Geophysical methods Simulation 



Funding of this research work was within the framework of BLACK SEA ERA.NET—Pilot Joint Call, Networking on Science and Technology in the Black Sea Region, CLEARWATER, Thematic Focus 1.2 Water pollution prevention options for coastal zones and tourist areas, geophysiCaL basEd hydrogeologicAl modeling to pRevent pollution from sea WATER intrusion at coastal areas. The research project AQUADAM (Archimedes III) is implemented through the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” and is co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund) and Greek national funds.


  1. Abarca E, Carrera J, Sanchez-Vila X, Voss CI (2007) Quasi-horizontal circulation cells in 3D seawater intrusion. J Hydrol 339(3–4):118–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aharnouch A, Larabi A (2004) A 3D finite element model for seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers. Dev Water Sci 55:1655–1667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barsukov PO, Fainberg EB, Khabensky EO (2006) Shallow investigation by TEM-FAST technique: methodology and case histories. In: Spichak VV (ed) Methods of geochemistry and geophysics, vol 40. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 55–77Google Scholar
  4. Cherubini C, Pastore N (2011) Critical stress scenarios for a coastal aquifer in southeastern Italy. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 11:1381–1393. doi: 10.5194/nhess-11-1381-2011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Diersch HJ (1988) Finite-element modeling of recirculating density-driven saltwater intrusion processes in groundwater. Adv Water Resour 11(1):25–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Diersch HJG (2002) Discrete feature modeling of flow, mass and heat transport processes by using FEFLOW. WASY, BerlingGoogle Scholar
  7. Diersch HJG, Kolditz O (2002) Variable-density flow and transport in porous media: approaches and challenges. Adv Water Resour 25(8–12):899–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dokou Z, Karatzas GP (2012) Saltwater intrusion estimation in a karstified coastal system using density-dependent modelling and comparison with the sharp-interface approach. Hydrol Sci J 57(5):985–999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Druskin VL, Knizhnerman LA (1988) Spectral differential-difference method for numerical solution of three-dimensional nonstationary problems of electric prospecting. Izvestiya’ Earth Phys 24(8):641–648 (UDC 550.837.3) Google Scholar
  10. Essink GHPO (2001) Salt water intrusion in a three-dimensional groundwater system in the Netherlands: a numerical study. Transp Porous Med 43(1):137–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. FAO (1972) Study of the water resources and their exploitation for irrigation in eastern Crete—Greece. Drillings and pumping tests in Messara AGL:SF/GRE 17/31 tech. rep. 26, UNDP, IraklioGoogle Scholar
  12. Fitterman DV, Stewart MT (1986) Transient electromagnetic sounding for groundwater. Geophysics 51:995–1005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garcia-Arostegui JL, Padillia F, Cruz-Sanjulian JJ (1998) Numerical simulation of the influence of the La Vifluela reservoir system on the coastal aquifer of the Velez River. Hydrol Sci J 43(3):459–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giambastiani BMS, Antonellini M, Essink GHPO, Stuurman RJ (2007) Saltwater intrusion in the unconfined coastal aquifer of Ravenna (Italy): a numerical model. J Hydrol 340(1–2):91–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldman M, Arad A, Kafri U, Gilad D, Melloul A (1988) Detection of freshwater/seawater interface by the time domain electromagnetic (TDEM) method in Israel. Naturwet Tijdsehr 70:339–344Google Scholar
  16. Kanta A, Soupios P, Barsukov P, Kouli M, Vallianatos F (2013) Aquifer characterization using shallow geophysics in the Keritis Basin of Western Crete, Greece. Environ Earth Sci 70(5):2153–2165. doi: 10.1007/s12665-013-2503-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kaufman A, Keller G (1983) Frequency and transient soundings. Methods in geochemistry and geophysics. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  18. Kopsiaftis G, Mantoglou A, Giannoulopoulos P (2009) Variable density coastal aquifer models with application to an aquifer on Thira Island. Desalination 237(1–3):65–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Llopis-Albert C, Pulido-Velazquez D (2014) Discussion about the validity of sharp-interface models to deal with seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers. Hydrol Proc 28(10):3642–3654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McNeill JD (1994) Principles and applications of time domain electromagnetic techniques for resistivity sounding. Geonics Ltd. Technical Note TN-27, p 15Google Scholar
  21. Mills T, Hoekstra P, Blohm M, Evans L (1988) Time domain electromagnetic soundings for mapping sea-water intrusion in Monterey County, California. Ground Water 26:771–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Milnes E, Renard P (2004) The problem of salt recycling and seawater intrusion in coastal irrigated plains: an example from the Kiti aquifer (Southern Cyprus). J Hydrol 288(3–4):327–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nabighian MN, Macnae JC (1991) Time domain electromagnetic prospecting methods. Electromagn Methods Appl Geophys Tulsa 2:427–520Google Scholar
  24. Panagopoulos G, Giannakakos E, Manoutsoglou E, Steiakakis E, Soupios P, Vafidis A (2013) Definition of inferred faults using 3-D geological modeling techniques: a case study in Tympaki basin in Crete, Greece. In: Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece, vol. XLVII 2013 Proceedings of the 13th International Congress, Chania, Sept 2013Google Scholar
  25. Panday S, Huyakorn PS, Robertson JB, Mcgurk B (1993) A density-dependent flow and transport analysis of the effects of groundwater development in a fresh-water lens of limited areal extent—the Geneva Area (Florida, USA) case-study. J Contam Hydrol 12(4):329–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Paniconi C, Khlaifi I, Lecca G, Giacomelli A, Tarhouni J (2001) A modelling study of seawater intrusion in the Korba Coastal Plain, Tunisia. Phys Chem Earth Pt B 26(4):345–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Papadopoulou MP, Karatzas GP, Koukadaki MA, Trichakis Y (2005) Modeling the saltwater intrusion phenomenon in coastal aquifers—a case study in the industrial zone of Herakleio in Crete Global NEST Journal 7, 2 July 2005 Issue on Water Quality, pp 197–203Google Scholar
  28. Papadopoulou MP, Varouchakis EA, Karatzas GP (2010) Terrain discontinuity effects in the regional flow of a complex karstified aquifer. Environ Model Assess 15(5):319–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Paritsis SN (2005) Simulation of seawater intrusion into the Tympaki aquifer, South Central Crete, Greece. Report within MEDIS project, Study implemented on behalf of the Department of Management of Water Resources of the Region of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, GreeceGoogle Scholar
  30. Pool M, Carrera J (2011) A correction factor to account for mixing in Ghyben-Herzberg and critical pumping rate approximations of seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers. Water Resour Res 47:W05506Google Scholar
  31. Reilly TE, Goodman AS (1985) Quantitative-analysis of saltwater fresh-water relationships in groundwater systems—a historical-perspective. J Hydrol 80(1–2):125–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reynolds JM (2010) An introduction to applied and environmental geophysics. Wiley, New York. ISBN-13:9780471485353Google Scholar
  33. Sharma P (1997) Environmental and engineering geophysics. Cambridge University press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  34. Soupios P, Kalisperi D, Kanta A, Kouli M, Barsukov P, Vallianatos F (2010) Coastal aquifer assessment based on geological and geophysical survey, North Western Crete, Greece. Environ Earth Sci 61(1):63–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Soupios P, Kourgialas N, Dokou Z, Karatzas G, Panagopoulos G, Vafidis A, Manoutsoglou E (2014) Modeling saltwater intrusion at an agricultural coastal area using geophysical methods and the FEFLOW model. IAEG XII CONGRESS, Torino, 15–19 September 2014Google Scholar
  36. Stewart M, Gay MC (1986) Evaluation of transient electromagnetic soundings for deep detection of conductive fluids. Ground Water 24:351–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vafidis A, Soupios P, Economou N, Hamdan H, Andronikidis N, Kritikakis G, Panagopoulos G, Manoutsoglou E, Steiakakis E, Candansayar E, Schafmeister MT (2014a) Seawater intrusion imaging at Tybaki, Crete, Greece, using geophysical data and joint inversion of electrical and seismic data. First Break 32:107–114Google Scholar
  38. Vafidis A, Kritikakis G, Andronikidis N, Economou N, Hamdan H, Manoutsoglou E, Steiakakis E, Candansayar E, Schafmeister MT, Kritsotakis M (2014b) Saltwater intrusion imaging at Tybaki (Greece) using geophysical methods. In: 20th European meeting of environmental and engineering geophysics, Athens, Greece, 14–18 September 2014Google Scholar
  39. Xue Y, Xie CH, Wu JC, Liu PM, Wang JJ, Jiang QB (1995) A 3-dimensional miscible transport model for seawater intrusion in China. Water Resour Res 31(4):903–912CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. N. Kourgialas
    • 1
  • Z. Dokou
    • 1
  • G. P. Karatzas
    • 1
  • G. Panagopoulos
    • 2
  • P. Soupios
    • 3
  • A. Vafidis
    • 2
  • E. Manoutsoglou
    • 2
  • M. Schafmeister
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Environmental EngineeringTechnical University of CreteChaniaGreece
  2. 2.School of Mineral Resources EngineeringTechnical University of CreteChaniaGreece
  3. 3.Department of Environmental and Natural Resources EngineeringTechnological Educational Institute of CreteChaniaGreece
  4. 4.Institut für Geographie und GeologieGreifswald UniversityGreifswaldGermany

Personalised recommendations