Institute for Mediterranean Studies


Preliminary investigation of marine freshwater discharges on Island of Crete (Greece) as a potential source of fresh water supply and energy.

Goal: Identify potential sources of the freshwater in coastal zone of Crete.
Objective: Measure and record conductivity (salinity) changes in selected monitoring locations over four years.

The purpose of the project is to address the issue of freshwater harvesting on Crete. Because of geological structure (mostly carbnate rocks over metamorphic basement) the island has enormous resources of freshwater stored in karst, formed by dissolution of carbonates rocks. In some locations, springs exit mountainside and provide freshwater supply for villages (e.g. Kato Syme, where spring is still being used for agriculture and potable water since Late Bronze age). However, it is suspected that a large amount of freshwater leaves karstic rocks because of their high permeability, flows down by gravity, and then appears in the coastline as a freshwater marine discharge. There are many evidences of marine discharges in the northern and southern coasts of Crete, marked by differences in color and temperature during the mixing with warm and saltier sea water.

Expected Outcomes:
1.    Obtain salinity (conductivity) fluctuation records at the end of the first year.
2.    Observe seasonal pattern of freshwater appearance in data.
3.    If necessary, readjust salinity (conductivity) monitoring station locations after one year to establish new monitoring sites.
4.    Use collected data to establish timing of marine freshwater discharges; this information will help to establish monitoring system to measure freshwater discharges and identify time when water sampling can take place.
5.    Published results will help in establishing a dialog between local planners, environmental engineers and hydrogeologists regarding potential use of marine freshwater discharges for the energy and water supply projects on Crete.

Funding: City University of New York

Project Team

Yuri Gorokhovich

Yuri Gorokhovich

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lehman College
Golnoush Asadian

Golnoush Asadian

Visiting Research Scientist
Lehman College