Rebuttal to “The case of the Biscayne Bay and aquifer near Miami, Florida: density-driven flow of seawater or gravitationally driven discharge of deep saline groundwater?” by Weyer (Environ Earth Sci 2018, 77:1-16)
Provost, Alden M
Post, Vincent Eduard Alexander
Michael, Holly A
Langevin, Christian D
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A recent paper by Weyer (Environ Earth Sci 2018, 77:1–16) challenges the widely accepted interpretation of groundwater heads and salinities in the coastal Biscayne aquifer near Miami, Florida, USA. Weyer (2018) suggests that the body of saltwa-ter that underlies fresh groundwater just inland of the coast is not a recirculating wedge of seawater, but results instead from upward migration of deep saline groundwater driven by regional flow. Perhaps more significantly, Weyer (2018) also asserts that established hydrologic theory is fundamentally incorrect with respect to buoyancy. Instead of acting along the direction of gravity (that is, vertically), Weyer (2018) claims, buoyancy acts instead along the direction of the pressure gradient. As a result, Weyer (2018) considers currently available density-dependent groundwater flow and transport modeling codes, and the analyses based on them, to be in error. In this rebuttal, we clarify the inaccuracies in the main points of Weyer’s (2018) paper. First, we explain that Weyer (2018) has misinterpreted observed equivalent freshwater heads in the Biscayne aquifer and that his alternative hypothesis concerning the source of the saltwater does not explain the observed salinities. Then, we review the established theory of buoyancy to identify the problem with Weyer’s (2018) alternative theory. Finally, we present theory and cite successful benchmark simulations to affirm the suitability of currently available codes for modeling density-dependent groundwater flow and transport.
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