Publication date: November 2017
Source:Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Volumes 178–179
Author(s): Vanessa Hatje, Karina Kammer Attisano, Marcelo Friederichs Landim de Souza, Barbara Mazzilli, Joselene de Oliveira, Tamires de Araújo Mora, William C. Burnett
Todos os Santos Bay (BTS) is the 2nd largest bay in Brazil and an important resource for the people of the State of Bahia. We made measurements of radon and radium in selected areas of the bay to evaluate if these tracers could provide estimates of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) and flushing times of the Paraguaçu Estuary and BTS. We found that there were a few areas along the eastern and northeastern shorelines that displayed relatively high radon and low salinities, indicating possible sites of enhanced SGD. A time-series mooring over a tidal cycle at Marina do Bonfim showed a systematic enrichment of the short-lived radium isotopes 223Ra and 224Ra during the falling tide. Assuming that the elevated radium isotopes were related to SGD and using measured radium activities from a shallow well at the site, we estimated groundwater seepage at about 70 m3/day per unit width of shoreline. Extrapolating to an estimated total shoreline length provided a first approximation of total (fresh + saline) SGD into BTS of 300 m3/s, about 3 times the average river discharge into the bay. Just applying the shoreline lengths from areas identified with high radon and reduced salinity results in a lower SGD estimate of 20 m3/s. Flushing times of the Paraguaçu Estuary were estimated at about 3–4 days based on changing radium isotope ratios from low to high salinities. The flushing time for the entire BTS was also attempted using the same approach and resulted in a surprisingly low value of only 6–8 days. Although physical oceanographic models have proposed flushing times on the order of months, a simple tidal prism calculation provided results in the range of 4–7 days, consistent with the radium approach. Based on these initial results, we recommend a strategy for refining both SGD and flushing time estimates.
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