Programme  OS1c Europe and North America  abstract 874


Author(s): V. de Montety, O. Radakovitch, C. Vallet-Coulomb, B. Blavoux, V. Vallès, Y. Travi
V. de Montety(1), O. Radakovitch(2), C. Vallet-Coulomb(2), B. Blavoux(1), V.Vallès(1), Y. Travi(1) (1) LHA, Laboratoire d’Hydrogéologie d’ Avignon, Université d’Avignon, 33 rue Louis Pasteur, 84000 Avignon. Tel/fax :,, (2) CEREGE, Centre Européen de Recherche et d’enseignement en Géosciences de l’environnement, Europôle de l’Arbois, BP 80, 13545 Aix-en-provence. Tel:,

Keyword(s): Seawater intrusion, Confined aquifer, Hydrogeochemistry, Isotopes, Water-rocks interaction

Article: abs874_article.pdf
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Session: OS1c Europe and North America
AbstractSince the last

decades, coastal areas are subject to two main hazards: important anthropization and sea level rise; two points which

have a strong impact on the groundwater resource and more particularly on its quality. Located between the two

arms of the Rhône River, the Camargue delta gives a good example of such issues: the human pressure since the end

of the nineteen century has led to a strong modification of the delta and its vicinity (huge industrial and harbour area

on the other side of the Rhône River). Moreover, this low deltaic plain is particularly sensitive to the acceleration of

the sea level rise estimated at 2mm/year since 1905 in this area.
Within the framework of the ORE RESYST*,an

affiliated LOICZ° programme, a hydrochemical and isotopic study of the saline confined aquifer of the Rhône delta

has been carried out to better assess the consequence of these issues on the groundwater. Understanding the origin

and mechanisms of the salinization process of the confined aquifer is an important point for preventing further

deterioration of this groundwater resource.
Groundwater presents strong values of electric conductivity (up to 58

mS/cm) rising from the north of the delta to the Mediterranean Sea. Chemical and isotopic (18O, 2H, and 13C)

analyses performed on monthly samples from 8 boreholes revealed that seawater intrusion occurs in the aquifer. The

seawater contribution varies in the groundwater from about 6% to 98%. However, the ideal two end-members

mixing between freshwater and Mediterranean seawater is strongly modified by water/rock interactions. Two

different zones have been identified within the aquifer: (i) in the less saline part of the aquifer (up to 20% of

seawater), cation exchanges prevail whereas (ii) in the most saline part of the aquifer sulphates reduction processes

and precipitation phenomena occur.
In order to date the seawater intrusion, new samplings have been carried out

for 3H and 14C analyses in the confined aquifer and its potential recharge sources (Mediterranean Sea, unconfined

Crau aquifer, Rhône River). Except for one borehole, groundwater samples contain no tritium suggesting that

penetration of Mediterranean seawater occur more than 40 years ago. Moreover, the absence of tritium in the

groundwater indicates that the freshwater recharge from the Rhône River and the Crau aquifer is a slow process.

The low 14C activities measured in groundwater seem to confirm the non-recent seawater source. However the high

water/rock interactions have to be taken into account to correct the apparent groundwater aging. The resulting age

of the groundwater would have important consequences in the hazard assessment of a sea level rise due to climatic


*Environment Research Observatory: Response of a delta system to external forçing

with Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone

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