Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Pinder, George


Tidally-induced head fluctuation is a natural phenomenon in coastal regions. The discharge of groundwater through sediments will occur anywhere that the aquifer is hydraulically connected to a surface water body and the time averaged tidally-influenced water level in the aquifer is higher than sea level, and almost all coastal regions are subject to such flow. With the development of coastal areas, the discharge of groundwater contaminants into tidally affected coastal water bodies has become a significant problem. Biota that live in the benthic region are known to be sensitive to the concentration of discharging anthropogenic chemical compounds. Thus the contaminant concentration entering the benthos is of very significant practical importance and its study is the focus of this dissertation. An investigation of the effect of tides on the concentration of groundwater contaminants discharging to a surface water body is studied using a one-dimensional homogeneous sand column. Results of the experiment are confirmed using a three-dimensional heterogeneous groundwater tank model. A constant water level is imposed upgradient, and the downgradient water level is controlled by a wave generator that controls the hydraulic head to mimic a 12 hour tidal fluctuation. The experimental results demonstrate that the tidal fluctuations in the downgradient reservoir result in a decrease in average contaminant concentration at the point of groundwater discharge to the surface-water body. The further upstream the well is located, the smaller the amplitude of the concentration oscillation. In addition, upstream migration of concentration oscillations is observed in spite of a net downgradient flow. Fourier analysis suggests that the dominant frequency of the peaks of pressure and chemical data at different locations along the length of the column is identically two cycles per day and that the amplitudes of the concentration oscillations increase with time at measurement locations at the upstream responding probes. As the classical groundwater flow and transport model cannot reproduce the phenomena we observed, an innovative multi-mobility model, is proposed with one highly mobile liquid phase, one less mobile liquid phase and a solid phase. Averaging theory is applied to develop the mass conservation equation from the microscale to the macroscale and facilitate the reduction of dimensionality to obtain one-dimensional governing equations with closure relations. A new finite volume method is utilized to solve the resulting equations. The simulation confirms the existence of the enhanced tidally-induced mixing process.