•Heterogeneity strongly influences coastal groundwater flow.•Physical and numerical models were done for discrete (Dykes, fringing reef) and spatially distributed heterogeneity.•Dykes lead to compartmentalization of aquifer and preserve saline water on the landward side for longer periods of time.•Fringing reefs lead to bimodal freshwater flow to the ocean, (a) at the beach face, (b) in submarine springs at the reef bottom. This play a major role for nutrient transport into coastal ecosystems. Bimodal flow confirmed by field data.•For structured conductivity fields, longer aquifer compartments lead to a higher resulting hydraulic conductivity and a movement of the wedge toe further inland.
Advances in Water Resources – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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