Key similarities exist between marine and Great Lakes coastal environments. Water and nutrient fluxes across lakebeds in the Great Lakes are influenced by seiche and wind set-up and set-down, analogous to tidal influence in marine settings. Groundwater/surface-water interactions also commonly involve a saline-fresh water interface, although in the Great-Lakes cases, it is groundwater that is commonly saline and surface water that is fresh. Evapotranspiration also affects nearshore hydrology in both settings. Interactions between groundwater and surface water have recently been identified as an important component of ecological processes in the Great Lakes. Water withdrawals and the reversal of the groundwater/surface water seepage gradient are also common to many coastal areas around the Great Lakes. As compared to surface water, regional groundwater that discharges to western Lake Erie from Michigan is highly mineralized. Studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey at Erie State Game Area in southeastern Michigan, describe groundwater flow dynamics and chemistry, shallow lake-water chemistry, and fish and invertebrate communities. Results presented here provide an overview of recent progress of ongoing interdisciplinary studies of Great Lakes nearshore systems and describe a conceptual model that identifies relations among geologic, hydrologic, chemical, and biological processes in the coastal habitats of Lake Erie. This conceptual model is based on analysis of hydraulic head in piezometers at the study site and chemical analysis of deep and shallow coastal groundwater.
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