Simulation of coastal aquifer using mSim toolbox and COMSOL multiphysics


Fluctuations in groundwater levels along the coast have a significant impact on the extent of saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers. This study aims to simulate the groundwater flow and solute transport in the region by using the mSim toolbox in the MATLAB and COMSOL Multiphysics. The investigation is focussed on a micro-basin of Pavanje river located along the west coast of India. The model results are calibrated and validated against the field observations. The results show that the variation of the water table over the year is significant and range from about 3–14 m. There exists a reasonable correlation between the simulated and observed values of groundwater level and salinity. The wells that are most vulnerable to seawater intrusion in the region are identified. The COMSOL model estimated a salinity range of 0–20 mol/m3. Additionally, the model is used to understand the response of coastal aquifer to various stress scenarios. The study reveals that reduced recharge rate with increased pumping has a serious impact on aquifer system.

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ξ = ξ(x, y):

The distance between the reference level and the saltwater–freshwater interface

b = b(x, y):

The total freshwater head, applicable to both zones of the aquifer = hf for zone 1; b(x, y) = hf − d + ξ (x, y) for zone 2

h f :

Freshwater head concerning the aquifer base

N :

Aquifer recharge rate, which replenishes the aquifer

τ :

Intersection between the interface and the base of the aquifer, which is usually called “toe” of the seawater wedge

The hydraulic head hf and the variable ξ are related through the following equation (1/ε)(hfd) = ξ(x, y), in which ε is the density ratio ε = (ρ0 − ρs)/ρ0, where ρs stands for the maximum seawater density


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The authors are grateful to Dr. George Kourakos for introducing mSim as a precursor to contaminant transport modelling.

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Correspondence to S Deb Barma.

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Communicated by Subimal Ghosh

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Kumar, S.S., Deb Barma, S. & Amai, M. Simulation of coastal aquifer using mSim toolbox and COMSOL multiphysics. J Earth Syst Sci 129, 66 (2020).

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  • Coastal aquifers
  • COMSOL Multiphysics
  • mSim
  • predictive simulation
  • saltwater intrusion