Development of an Ultrasonic Ground Water Seepage Meter

- Sep 13, 2018 -

Submarine ground water discharge can influence significantly the near‐shore transport and flux of chemicals into the oceans. Quantification of the sources and rates of such discharge requires a ground water seepage meter that provides continuous measurements at high resolution over an extended period of time. An ultrasonic flowmeter has been adapted for such measurements in the submarine environment. Connected to a steel collection funnel, the meter houses two piezoelectric transducers mounted at opposite ends of a cylindrical flow tube. By monitoring the perturbations of fluid flow on the propagation of sound waves inside the flow tube, the ultrasonic meter can measure both forward and reverse fluid flows in real time. Laboratory and field calibrations show that the ultrasonic meter can resolve ground water discharges on the order of 0.1 μm/sec, and it is sufficiently robust for deployment in the field for several days. Data from West Neck Bay, Shelter Island, New York, elucidate the temporal and spatial heterogeneity of submarine ground water discharge and its interplay with tidal loading. A negative correlation between the discharge and tidal elevation was generally observed. A methodology was also developed whereby data for the sound velocity as a function of temperature can be used to infer the salinity and source of the submarine discharge. Independent measurements of electrical conductance were performed to validate this methodology.