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  1. Abstract. Ocean surges pose a global threat for coastal stability.These hazardous events alter flow conditions and pore pressures in floodedbeach areas during both inundation and subsequent retreat stages, which canmobilize beach material, potentially enhancing erosion significantly. Inthis study, the evolution of surge-induced pore-pressure gradients is studied through numerical hydrologic simulations of storm surges. The spatiotemporal variability of critically high gradients is analyzed in three dimensions. The analysis is based on a threshold value obtained for quicksand formationof beach materials under groundwater seepage. Simulations of surge eventsshow that, during the run-up stage, head gradients can rise to the calculated critical level landward of the advancing inundation line. During thereceding stage, critical gradients were simulated seaward of the retreatinginundation line. These gradients reach maximum magnitudes just as sea levelreturns to pre-surge levels and are most accentuated beneath the still-water shoreline, where the model surface changes slope. The gradients vary alongthe shore owing to variable beach morphology, with the largest gradientsseaward of intermediate-scale (1–3 m elevation) topographic elements (dunes)in the flood zone. These findings suggest that the common practices inmonitoring and mitigating surge-induced failures and erosion, which typically focus on the flattest areas of beaches, might need to be revised to include other topographic features. 
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  2. Abstract

    Coastal aquifers supply freshwater to nearly half the global population, yet they are threatened by salinization. Salinities are typically estimated assuming steady‐state, neglecting the effect of cyclical forcings on average salinity distributions. Here, numerical modeling is used to test this assumption. Multi‐scale fluctuations in sea level (SL) are simulated, from tides to glacial cycles. Results show that high‐frequency fluctuations alter average salinities compared with the steady‐state distribution produced by average SL. Low‐frequency forcing generates discrepancies between present‐day salinities estimated with and without considering the cyclical forcing due to overshoot effects. This implies that salinities in coastal aquifers may be erroneously estimated when assuming steady‐state conditions, since present distributions are likely part of a dynamic steady state that includes forcing on multiple timescales. Further, typically neglected aquifer storage characteristics can strongly control average salinity distributions. This has important implications for managing vulnerable coastal groundwater resources and for calibration of hydrogeological models.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Groundwater is the primary source of water in the Bengal Delta but contamination threatens this vital resource. In deltaic environments, heterogeneous sedimentary architecture controls groundwater flow; therefore, characterizing subsurface structure is a critical step in predicting groundwater contamination. Here, we show that surface information can improve the characterization of the nature and geometry of subsurface features, thus improving the predictions of groundwater flow. We selected three locations in the Bengal Delta with distinct surface river network characteristics—the lower delta with straighter tidal channels, the mid‐delta with meandering and braided channels, and the inactive delta with transitional sinuous channels. We used surface information, including channel widths, depths, and sinuosity, to create models of the subsurface with object‐based geostatistical simulations. We collected an extensive set of lithologic data and filled in gaps with newly drilled boreholes. Our results show that densely distributed lithologic data from active lower and mid‐delta are consistent with the object‐based models generated from surface information. In the inactive delta, metrics from object‐based models derived from surface geometries are not consistent with subsurface data. We further simulated groundwater flow and solute transport through the object‐based models and compared these with simulated flow through lithologic models based only on variograms. Substantial differences in flow and transport through the different geologic models show that geometric structure derived from surface information strongly influences groundwater flow and solute transport. Land surface features in active deltas are therefore a valuable source of information for improving the evaluation of groundwater vulnerability to contamination.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Coastal deltaic aquifers are vulnerable to degradation from seawater intrusion, geogenic and anthropogenic contamination, and groundwater abstraction. The distribution and transport of contaminants are highly dependent on the subsurface sedimentary architecture, such as the presence of channelized features that preferentially conduct flow. Surface deposition changes in response to sea‐level rise (SLR) and sediment supply, but it remains unclear how these surface changes affect the distribution and transport of groundwater solutes in aquifers. Here, we explore the influence of SLR and sediment supply on aquifer heterogeneity and resulting effects on contaminant transport. We use realizations of subsurface heterogeneity generated by a process‐based numerical model, DeltaRCM, which simulates the evolution of a deltaic aquifer with different input sand fractions and rates of SLR. We simulate groundwater flow and solute transport through these deposits in three contamination scenarios: (a) vertical transport from widespread contamination at the land surface, (b) vertical transport from river water infiltration, and (c) lateral seawater intrusion. The simulations show that the vulnerability of deltaic aquifers to seawater intrusion correlates to sand fraction, while vertical transport of contaminants, such as widespread shallow contamination and river water infiltration, is influenced by channel stacking patterns. This analysis provides new insights into the connection between the depositional system properties and vulnerability to different modes of groundwater contamination. It also illustrates how vulnerability may vary locally within a delta due to depositional differences. Results suggest that groundwater management strategies may be improved by considering surface features, location within the delta, and the external forcings during aquifer deposition.

     
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