Open Access Publications

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Open access publications by faculty, postdocs, and graduate students in the Department of Earth Sciences.


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Now showing 1 - 5 of 12
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    Coastal topography and hydrogeology control critical groundwater gradients and potential beach surface instability during storm surges
    (Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 2022-12-02) Paldor, Anner; Stark, Nina; Florence, Matthew; Raubenheimer, Britt; Elgar, Steve; Housego, Rachel; Frederiks, Ryan S.; Michael, Holly A.
    Ocean surges pose a global threat for coastal stability. These hazardous events alter flow conditions and pore pressures in flooded beach areas during both inundation and subsequent retreat stages, which can mobilize beach material, potentially enhancing erosion significantly. In this 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 formation of beach materials under groundwater seepage. Simulations of surge events show that, during the run-up stage, head gradients can rise to the calculated critical level landward of the advancing inundation line. During the receding stage, critical gradients were simulated seaward of the retreating inundation line. These gradients reach maximum magnitudes just as sea level returns to pre-surge levels and are most accentuated beneath the still-water shoreline, where the model surface changes slope. The gradients vary along the shore owing to variable beach morphology, with the largest gradients seaward of intermediate-scale (1–3 m elevation) topographic elements (dunes) in the flood zone. These findings suggest that the common practices in monitoring 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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    Hydrologic Control on Arsenic Cycling at the Groundwater–Surface Water Interface of a Tidal Channel
    (Environmental Science and Technology, 2023-01-10) Yu, Xuan; LeMonte, Joshua J.; Li, Junxia; Stuckey, Jason W.; Sparks, Donald L.; Cargill, John G.; Russoniello, Christopher J.; Michael, Holly A.
    Historical industrial activities have resulted in soil contamination at sites globally. Many of these sites are located along coastlines, making them vulnerable to hydrologic and biogeochemical alterations due to climate change and sea-level rise. However, the impact of hydrologic dynamics on contaminant mobility in tidal environments has not been well studied. Here, we collected data from pressure transducers in wells, multi-level redox sensors, and porewater samplers at an As-contaminated site adjacent to a freshwater tidal channel. Results indicate that sharp redox gradients exist and that redox conditions vary on tidal to seasonal timescales due to sub-daily water level fluctuations in the channel and seasonal groundwater–surface water interactions. The As and Fe2+ concentrations decreased during seasonal periods of net discharge to the channel. The seasonal changes were greater than tidal variations in both Eh and As concentrations, indicating that impacts of the seasonal mechanism are stronger than those of sub-daily water table fluctuations. A conceptual model describing tidal and seasonal hydro-biogeochemical coupling is presented. These findings have broad implications for understanding the impacts of sea-level rise on the mobility of natural and anthropogenic coastal solutes.
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    Hydrogen Diffusion in Clinopyroxene at Low Temperatures (195°C–400°C) and Consequences for Subsurface Processes
    (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 2022-12-12) Bissbort, Thilo; Lynn, Kendra J.; Becker, Hans-Werner; Chakraborty, Sumit
    Studying diffusion of hydrogen in nominally anhydrous minerals, like clinopyroxene, at low temperatures is a challenging task due to experimental and analytical difficulties. In this study, to overcome these problems we have produced H concentration gradients in single crystals of natural diopsidic clinopyroxene by ion implantation and measured the nanoscale profiles before and after diffusion anneals using Nuclear Resonance Reaction Analysis. These steps allowed us to conduct experiments at temperatures between 195°C and 400°C. Obtained diffusion rates show a consistent Arrhenius relation DH= 5.47(±13.98) · 10−8 · exp (−115.64(±11.5) kJ mol−1/RT) m2s−1. Notably, our results lie well within the range of extrapolations from high temperature experiments (≥600°C) of previous studies. This implies that fast diffusion of hydrogen (compared to other elements) extends to low temperatures. We used these results in a non-isothermal diffusion model that simulates the ascent of crystals (0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 mm) along two representative P-T-paths from 600°C to 100°C, to assess potential re-equilibration of H contents in clinopyroxene at low temperatures. Our model highlights the need to carefully consider boundary conditions, which are a function of P-T-fO2, that control the concentration gradient at the crystal's rim. The results from this model help to assess, as a function of crystal size and cooling rate, when re-equilibration must be considered. Key Points - Diffusion rates of hydrogen in clinopyroxene in the low temperature range (195°C–400°C) were quantified for the first time - Diffusion coefficients at low temperatures lie within the range of extrapolations from high temperature experiments - Non-isothermal modeling was applied to evaluate potential re-equilibration of clinopyroxene crystals at low temperatures
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    Critical facility accessibility and road criticality assessment considering flood-induced partial failure
    (Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure, 2022-11-25) Gangwal, Utkarsh; Siders, A. R.; Horney, Jennifer; Michael, Holly A.; Dong, Shangjia
    This paper examines communities’ accessibility to critical facilities such as hospitals, emergency medical services, and emergency shelters when facing flooding. We use travel speed reduction to account for flood-induced partial road failure. A modified betweenness centrality metric is also introduced to calculate the criticality of roads for connecting communities to critical facilities. The proposed model and metric are applied to the Delaware road network under 100-year floods. This model highlights the severe critical facility access loss risk due to flood isolation of facilities. The mapped post-flooding accessibility suggests a significant travel time increase to critical facilities and reveals disparities among communities, especially for vulnerable groups such as long-term care facility residents. We also identified critical roads that are vital for post-flooding access to critical facilities. The results of this research can help inform targeted infrastructure investment decisions and hazard mitigation strategies that contribute to equitable community resilience enhancement.
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    Surface Water-Groundwater Connections as Pathways for Inland Salinization of Coastal Aquifers
    (Groundwater, 2022-11-17) Hingst, Mary C.; McQuiggan, Rachel W.; Peters, Chelsea N.; He, Changming; Andres, A. Scott; Michael, Holly A.
    Coastal agricultural zones are experiencing salinization due to accelerating rates of sea-level rise, causing reduction in crop yields and abandonment of farmland. Understanding mechanisms and drivers of this seawater intrusion (SWI) is key to mitigating its effects and predicting future vulnerability of groundwater resources to salinization. We implemented a monitoring network of pressure and specific conductivity (SC) sensors in wells and surface waters to target marsh-adjacent agricultural areas in greater Dover, Delaware. Recorded water levels and SC over a period of three years show that the mechanisms and timescales of SWI are controlled by local hydrology, geomorphology, and geology. Monitored wells did not indicate widespread salinization of deep groundwater in the surficial aquifer. However, monitored surface water bodies and shallow (<4 m deep) wells did show SC fluctuations due to tides and storm events, in one case leading to salinization of deeper (18 m deep) groundwater. Seasonal peaks in SC occurred during late summer months. Seasonal and interannual variation of SC was also influenced by relative sea level. The data collected in this study data highlight the mechanisms by which surface water-groundwater connections lead to salinization of aquifers inland, before SWI is detected in deeper groundwater nearer the coastline. Sharing of our data with stakeholders has led to the implementation of SWI mitigation efforts, illustrating the importance of strategic monitoring and stakeholder engagement to support coastal resilience.
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