Environmental Engineering Research Centre
School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Gareth David Robinson

Name:                                                  Mr Gareth Robinson

Job Title:                                              PhD Research Student

Professional Qualifications:         First Class MEng Hons Civil Engineering, 2011, QUB


PhD Title:                                             Saltwater Intrusion into Heterogeneous Coastal Aquifers


Given that an increased proportion of the world’s population are living near to the coast and are dependent on freshwater extracted from coastal aquifers, coupled with the rising sea levels due to climate change, saltwater intrusion has become a prevalent problem. Saltwater intrusion is the result of higher density seawater interacting with the less dense freshwater in a coastal aquifer. Due to the difference in pressures created by the different densities a saltwater wedge will progressively intrude landward in a coastal aquifer until the pressure equalises. Saltwater intrusion occurs naturally but is exacerbated by over abstraction of freshwater to supply the demand of the local population.

Numerous studies have been conducted to model the saltwater intrusion problem. The majority of these studies assume the coastal aquifer is homogeneous, which is never the case in reality. The main purpose of this research is to numerically model the effects of ground heterogeneity, in the form of variable permeability, on the saltwater intrusion problem. The model results will then be validated by an experimental programme. By doing so a closer representation of what occurs in real world saltwater intrusion can be achieved. This will lead to an increase in the accuracy of saltwater intrusion predictions and result in more efficient remediation strategies.