Evaluation of effective groundwater recharge of freshwater lens in small islands by the combined modeling of geoelectrical data and water heads

Jean-Christophe Comte, Olivier Banton, Jean-Lambert Join, Guy Cabioch

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15 Citations (Scopus)


In small islands, a freshwater lens can develop due to the recharge induced by rain. Magnitude and spatial distribution of this recharge control the elevation of freshwater and the depth of its interface with salt water. Therefore, the study of lens morphology gives useful information on both the recharge and water uptake due to evapotranspiration by vegetation. Electrical resistivity tomography was applied on a small coral reef island, giving relevant information on the lens structure. Variable density groundwater flow models were then applied to simulate freshwater behavior. Cross validation of the geoelectrical model and the groundwater model showed that recharge exceeds water uptake in dunes with little vegetation, allowing the lens to develop. Conversely, in the low-lying and densely vegetated sectors, where water uptake exceeds recharge, the lens cannot develop and seawater intrusion occurs. This combined modeling method constitutes an original approach to evaluate effective groundwater recharge in such environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberW06601
Number of pages10
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010



  • electrical resistivity tomography (ERT)
  • freshwater lens modeling
  • groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration

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