Abstract

Saltwater intrusion in southern Florida poses a potential threat to the public drinking-water supply that is typically monitored using water samples and electromagnetic induction logs collected from a network of wells. Transient electromagnetic (TEM) soundings are a complementary addition to the monitoring program because of their ease of use, low cost, and ability to fill in data gaps between wells. TEM soundings have been used to map saltwater intrusion in the Biscayne aquifer over a large part of south Florida including eastern Miami-Dade County and the Everglades. These two areas are very different with one being urban and the other undeveloped. Each poses different conditions that affect data collection and data quality. In the developed areas, finding sites large enough to make soundings is difficult. The presence of underground pipes further restricts useable locations. Electromagnetic noise, which reduces data quality, is also an issue. In the Everglades, access to field sites is difficult and working in water-covered terrain is challenging. Nonetheless, TEM soundings are an effective tool for mapping saltwater intrusion. Direct estimates of water quality can be obtained from the inverted TEM data using a formation factor determined for the Biscayne aquifer. This formation factor is remarkably constant over Miami-Dade County owing to the uniformity of the aquifer and the absence of clay. Thirty-six TEM soundings were collected in the Model Land area of southeast Miami-Dade County to aid in calibration of a helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) survey. The soundings and HEM survey revealed an area of saltwater intrusion aligned with canals and drainage ditches along U.S. Highway 1 and the Card Sound Road. These canals and ditches likely reduced freshwater levels through unregulated drainage and provided pathways for seawater to flow at least 12.4 km inland.

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