Submarine ground-water discharge (SGD) contributes important solute fluxes to coastal waters. Pollutants are transported to coastal ecosystems by SGD at spatially and temporally variable rates. New approaches are needed to characterize the effects of storm-event, tidal, and seasonal forcing on SGD. Here, we evaluate the utility of two geophysical methods–fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing (FO-DTS) and marine electrical resistivity (MER)–for observing the spatial and temporal variations in SGD and the configuration of the freshwater/saltwater interface within submarine sediments. FO-DTS and MER cables were permanently installed into the estuary floor on a transect extending 50 meters offshore under Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and nearly continuous data were collected for 4 weeks in summer 2007. Initial results indicate that the methods are extremely useful for monitoring changes in the complex estuarine environment. The FO-DTS produced time-series data at approximately 1-meter increments along the length of the fiber at approximately 29-second intervals. The temperature time-series data show that the temperature at near-shore locations appears to be dominated by a semi-diurnal (tidal) signal, whereas the temperature at off-shore locations is dominated by a diurnal signal (day/night heating and cooling). Dipole-dipole MER surveys were completed about every 50 minutes, allowing for production of high-resolution time-lapse tomograms, which provide insight into the variations of the subsurface freshwater/saltwater interface. Preliminary results from the MER data show a high-resistivity zone near the shore at low tide, indicative of SGD, and consistent with the FO-DTS results.


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