The main geology of the peninsula is karst. The karst is evident on the surface with collapse features and cenotes throughout the whole area. The lack of soil and the surface conduits allow contaminant releases at the surface to spread into the freshwater. Drinking water comes from an unconfined aquifer located 10-50 m below the surface with a saline water interface below that. This unconfined and coastal aquifer gradient is influenced by increased pumping for freshwater supplies and by diurnal tidal action.
As tourism increases so does the need for fresh water. The well field for southern Cancún and Puerto Morelos is just west of the Cancún International Airport along the Ruta de los Cenotes. This well field contains over 75 wells, each pumping fresh water out of the aquifer. Without the pumping, the aquifer flows into the ocean. The research questions are: Does the pumping at the well field reverse the hydraulic gradient so water flows into the well field? How large is the cone of depression? What is the zone of influence of the well field? Is the coast aquifer elevation influenced by the diurnal tidal action? Do major rain events change the direction of flow?
This project will use the elevation of groundwater around the well field to model the groundwater flow. Elevation will be determined by surveying the water levels in cenotes throughout the region. Pressure transducers will be used to monitor water levels over the month. The data will be used to generate groundwater flow models using GFlow or Modflow. The outcomes from this research will allow for better planning and management of the limited freshwater resources in the Yucatán Peninsula.