The driving forces of porewater and groundwater flow in permeable coastal sediments: a review

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Santos, IR, Eyre, BD & Huettel, M 2012, 'The driving forces of porewater and groundwater flow in permeable coastal sediments: a review', Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 98, pp. 1-15.

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Advective flows rapidly transport water, solutes, and particles into and out of permeable sand beds and significantly affects the biogeochemistry of coastal environments. In this paper, we reviewed the drivers of porewater and groundwater advection in permeable shelf sediments in an attempt to bridge gaps among different disciplines studying similar problems. We identified the following driving forces: (1) terrestrial hydraulic gradients, (2) seasonal changes in the aquifer level on land moving the location of the subterranean estuary, (3) wave setup and tidal pumping, (4) water level differences across permeable barriers, (5) flow- and topography-induced pressure gradients, (6) wave pumping; (7) ripple and other bed form migration, (8) fluid shear, (9) density-driven convection, (10) bioirrigation and bioturbation, (11) gas bubble upwelling, and (12) sediment compaction. While these drivers occur over spatial scales ranging from mm to km, and temporal scales ranging from seconds to years, their ultimate biogeochemical implications are very similar (i.e., they are often a source of new or recycled nutrients to seawater and transform organic carbon into inorganic carbon). Drivers 2–12 result in no net water input into the ocean. Taking all these mechanisms into account, we conservatively estimate that a volume equivalent to that of the entire ocean is filtered by permeable sediments at time scales of about 3000 years. Quantifying the relative contribution of these drivers is essential to understand the contribution of sediments to the global cycles of matter.