This study delineates the actual hydrogeochemistry and the geological evolution of an unconfined coastal aquifer located in a lowland setting in order to understand the drivers of the groundwater salinization. Physical aquifer parameterization highlights a vertical hydraulic gradient due to the presence of a heavy drainage system, which controls the hydrodynamics of this coastal area, forcing groundwater to flow from the bottom toward the top of the aquifer. As a consequence, relict seawater in stable density stratification, preserved within low permeability sediments in the deepest portion of the aquifer, has been drawn upward. The hydrogeochemical investigations allow identifying the role of seepage and water-sediment interactions in the aquifer salinization process and in the modification of groundwater chemistry. Mixing between freshwater and saltwater occurs; however, it is neither the only nor the dominant process driving groundwater hydrochemistry. In the aquifer several concurring and competing water-sediment interactions - as NaCl solution, ion-exchange, calcite and dolomite dissolution/precipitation, oxidation of organic matter, and sulfate bacterial reduction - are triggered by or overlap freshwater-saltwater mixing The hyper-salinity found in the deepest portion of the aquifer cannot be associated with present seawater intrusion, but suggests the presence of salt water of marine origin, which was trapped in the inter-basin during the Holocene transgression. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of groundwater dynamics and salinization processes in this lowland coastal aquifer.
Characterization of the lowland coastal aquifer of comacchio (ferrara, italy): Hydrology, hydrochemistry and evolution of the system / Giambastiani, B. M. S.; Colombani, N.; Mastrocicco, M.; Fidelibus, M. D.. - In: JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY. - ISSN 0022-1694. - ELETTRONICO. - 501:(2013), pp. 35-44. [10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.07.037]