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Second International Conference on Saltwater Intrusion and Coastal Aquifers Held on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula

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The SWICA2 meeting site, Mérida, México, on the Yucatán Peninsula
Above - location map: The SWICA2 meeting site, Mérida, México, on the Yucatán Peninsula, lies within the area of the buried Chicxulub impact crater. The area covered by the gravity anomaly map below is boxed in red.
Below - gravity anomaly map: Evidence for the crater can be seen in this horizontal gradient map of the Bouguer gravity anomaly over the crater. The coastline is shown as a white line. A striking series of concentric features reveals the location of the crater. White dots represent water-filled sinkholes (solution-collapse features common in the limestone rocks of the region) called cenotes after the Maya word dzonot. A dramatic ring of cenotes is associated with the largest peripheral gravity-gradient feature. The origin of the cenote ring remains uncertain, although the link to the underlying buried crater seems clear. (Gravity map and explanatory text adapted from Chicxulub Crater, Mexico, and the Cretaceous - Tertiary boundary Web page, Canadian Space Agency.)

horizontal gradient map of the Bouguer gravity anomaly over the Chicxulub impact crater
It has been 2 years since the highly successful first International Conference on Saltwater Intrusion and Coastal Aquifers (SWICA1) was held in Essaouira, Morocco. Meanwhile, Dr. Luis Marin (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and his band of energetic students, in collaboration with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists and many other partners, hosted the Second International Conference on Saltwater Intrusion and Coastal Aquifers (SWICA2) from March 30 to April 2 in Mérida, Mexico. In attendance were nearly 100 scientists from around the world.

USGS scientists Peter Swarzenski and Jack Kindinger (Geology Discipline [GD], St. Petersburg, FL) were asked to join the international steering committee of SWICA in Essaouira and participated in discussions and planning meetings for future SWICA events and publication venues. Both were also asked to chair sessions in Mérida and have been asked to serve as advisors in a joint Mexico-U.S. National Academy of Sciences venture that will seek collaborative research opportunities in hydrogeology and coastal aquifers.

During the SWICA2 inauguration ceremony, the famous Yucatecan scientist Antonio Camargo Zanoguera was formally recognized by the Mexican National Academy of Sciences and by other distinguished representatives from Yucatán for his discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater. Chicxulub is a site in northern Yucatán where a giant asteroid or comet struck the Earth approximately 65 million years ago and possibly caused the mass extinctions of the dinosaurs and more than 70 percent of all life on Earth.

Brian Edwards (GD, Menlo Park, CA), Steve Gingerich (Water-Resources Discipline [WRD], Honolulu, HI), Jack Kindinger, Kevin Cunningham (WRD, Miami, FL), Leonard Konikow (WRD, Reston, VA), Christian Langevin (WRD, Miami, FL), Dorothy Payne (WRD, Atlanta, GA), Peter Swarzenski, and Clifford Voss (WRD, Reston, VA) made USGS presentations at the conference.

Speakers from the USGS' Coastal and Marine Geology Program provided clear evidence for the importance of using geologic information to strengthen interdisciplinary hydrogeologic studies and to describe subsurface aquifers and flow systems more realistically. Brian provided a refined stratigraphic depiction of the complex Los Angeles Basin coastal-aquifer systems. Jack presented new geophysical results from the Lake Belt area of Miami, and Peter was asked to present a plenary talk on the geology and hydrogeology of the Florida peninsula.

The conference was a direct result of an ever-increasing proportion of the world's population (now about 70 percent) residing along coastal zones. In response to population and economic growth, ground water is becoming an increasingly important component of overall water demand. The inadequacy of sound management schemes has led to over-exploitation of ground water in many coastal regions of the world, resulting in encroachment of saltwater into coastal aquifers.

The conference objectives were to bring together scientists and water-resources managers from all over the world to exchange state-of-the-art knowledge and to discuss new technological advancements. The conference was a successful multidisciplinary meeting of hydrogeologists, geophysicists, geochemists, numerical modelers, managers, and policymakers. The conference theme was to promote an integrated approach that incorporates all aspects of monitoring, modeling, and management in addressing coastal-aquifer issues. Before the conference, well-attended workshops led by Cliff Voss and Lenny Konikow (USGS) provided hands-on training in the principles and applications of subsurface hydrogeology and numerical modeling.

Related Sound Waves Stories
SWICA-M³-The First International Conference on SaltWater Intrusion and Coastal Aquifers-Monitoring, Modeling and Management
June 2001

Related Web Sites
Coastal and Marine Geology Program
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Second International Conference on Saltwater Intrusion and Coastal Aquifers
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Centro de Investigación Cient’fica de Yucatán, AC
Chicxulub Crater, Mexico, and the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary
Meteorite and Impacts Advisory Committee, Canadian Space Agency

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