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Submarine groundwater discharge and associated fluxes of alkalinity and dissolved carbon into Moreton Bay (Australia) estimated via radium isotopes
Marine Chemistry
  • Benjamin T Stewart, Southern Cross University
  • Isaac R Santos, Southern Cross University
  • Douglas R Tait, Southern Cross University
  • Paul Macklin, Southern Cross University
  • Damien T Maher, Southern Cross University
Document Type
Publication Date
Peer Reviewed
Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) can release solutes into the coastal ocean. This study used radium isotopes (224Ra, 223Ra, and 226Ra) to investigate SGD and its influence on alkalinity (TAlk), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) inputs to Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. The average residence time of the bay was estimated to be about 40 days using radium isotope ratios, which is comparable to a previous physical model that revealed average residence times of 50 days. Radium isotopes identified several SGD hotspots around the bay. Using a 226Ra mass balance, a very minimum SGD flux of 1.1 × 107 m3 d− 1 (or 0.7 cm/day) was calculated relying on extreme assumptions including the use of maximum 226Ra concentration for the groundwater endmember attained from 45 spatially distributed samples. Using more reasonable assumptions (i.e., the average 226Ra concentration in the groundwaters as the end member), a total SGD rate of 6.7 × 107 ± 2.2 × 107 m3/day (or 4.4 ± 1.5 cm/day) was estimated, which was ~ 18 times greater than the average annual discharge of all the major river inputs into the bay (i.e., the sum of Brisbane, Caboolture, Pine, and Logan Rivers). The average groundwater concentrations of TAlk, DIC and DOC were 1.5, 1.7 and 6.7 times greater than Moreton Bay surface waters, respectively. Fluxes of SGD-derived TAlk, DIC and DOC were estimated to be 161, 156, and 36 mmol/m2/day, respectively. When upscaled to the Bay area, these SGD fluxes became 20 to 38 times higher than the estimated annual input of all the major rivers. SGD is regionally important from a hydrological and carbon cycle perspective even if extreme assumptions are made to minimize SGD estimates. However, it remains unclear whether the SGD traced by radium isotopes in Moreton Bay is composed of fresh or saline groundwater.
Citation Information

Stewart, BT, Santos, IR, Tait, DR, Macklin, PA & Maher, DT 2015, 'Submarine groundwater discharge and associated fluxes of alkalinity and dissolved carbon into Moreton Bay (Australia) estimated via radium isotopes', Marine Chemistry , vol. 174, pp. 1-12.

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