Transient groundwater-lake interactions in a continental rift:
Sea of Galilee, Israel

Shaul Hurwitz, Eyal Stanislavsky, Vladimir Lyakhovsky and Haim Gvirtzman

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Figure 1The Sea of Galilee, located in the northern part of the Dead Sea rift is currently an intermediate freshwater lake. It is postulated that in the late Pleistocene, during a short high-stand phase of former Lake Lisan saline water percolated into the subsurface. Since its recession from the Kinarot Basin and the instantaneous formation of the fresh-water lake, the Sea of Galilee, the previously intruded brine has been flushed backwards towards the lake. Numerical simulations solving the coupled equations of fluid flow and of solute and heat transport are applied to examine the feasibility of this hypothesis. A sensitivity analysis shows that the major parameters controlling basin hydrodynamics are lake-water salinity, aquifer permeability and aquifer anisotropy. Results show that a high-stand period of 3,000 years in Lake Lisan was sufficient for saline water to percolate deep into the subsurface. Figure 2Due to different aquifer permeabilities on both sides of the rift, brine percolated into aquifers on the western margin, whereas on the eastern side percolation was negligible. In the simulation, after the occupation of the basin by the Sea of Galilee, the invading saline water was leached backwards by a topography-driven flow. It is suggested that the percolating brine on the western side reacted with limestone at depth to form epigenetic dolomite at elevated temperatures. Therefore, groundwater discharging along the western shores of the Sea of Galilee has higher calcium to magnesium ratio than groundwater on the eastern side.

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