Dynamics of the coastal karst aquifer in the northern Yucatan Peninsula

Lisa Heise, Antonio Cardona, Erik Salazar Perales, Eduardo H. Graniel Castro
Trabajo Corto en Memorias del 2º Congreso Interamericano de Cambio Climático. 14-16 marzo 2016., 2016.


The Yucatán Peninsula lacks surface water; consequently, groundwater resources are indispensable to the water supply. Due to the high recharge rate of the shallow karst aquifer, the state of Yucatán does not face a water scarcity problem but instead faces a threat to water quality, one of the most important ecosystem services. Groundwater underlying Mérida discharges at the coastline and several anthropogenic and natural (saltwater intrusion) sources contaminate the water and compromise its quality. The main purpose of this research was to characterize the current status of the complex coastal aquifer system in the northwestern region of the Yucatán Peninsula, while addressing both quantity and quality issues through the investigation of the hydraulic conditions and the hydrochemical water composition. This information was used to understand the systems’ dynamics and its importance for the diverse ecosystems, as well as the impacts of climate change (CC) on the karst terrain. Because of the climatic conditions and high hydraulic conductivity of the subsoil, natural recharge is very dynamic; a direct relationship between groundwater head evolution and precipitation was identified in the monitoring wells. Spatial and temporal variations of water quality were determined. Natural discharge at the coastal zone was investigated from artesian wells; influence of tidal fluctuations, natural and induced recharge by precipitation and wastewater injection were identified. The aquifer flow system functions as a fundamental component and driving force of ecosystems and depends on climate variables as they directly influence ground-water recharge and shows the indispensable need for sustainable management of the study area to enhance its adaptive capacity to CC