Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) has been widely recognized as a significant source of water and dissolved material transport from land to ocean. To quantify SGD into the northern Bohai Bay, China, naturally occurring radium isotope (226Ra) was measured in water samples collected along two transects in September 2012. Based on a tidal prism model, two different flushing times of the coastal water were determined to be 9.1 d and 11.5 d with respect to the different return flow factor (b) obtained from a physical model and a mass balance model of 226Ra and salinity, respectively. Using the derived flushing time, we developed a 226Ra mass balance model to estimate the SGD into the bay, which includes mixing, sedimentary input and SGD. The 226Ra budget indicated the 226Ra input from SGD accounted for 99% of the total tracer input to the northern Bohai Bay. We arrived at an average flux from SGD of 4.83 × 107 m3/d. The large volume of SGD confirms its importance in supplying a considerable quantity of nutrients to the bay.

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