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Water 2017, 9(2), 125; doi:10.3390/w9020125

Nitrates in Groundwater Discharges from the Azores Archipelago: Occurrence and Fluxes to Coastal Waters

1
IVAR—Department of Geosciences, University of the Azores, 9500-321 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
2
Directorate-Regional for the Environment, 9500-160 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Karl-Erich Lindenschmidt
Received: 7 November 2016 / Revised: 26 January 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
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Abstract

Groundwater discharge is an important vector of chemical fluxes to the ocean environment, and as the concentration of nutrients is often higher in discharging groundwater, the deterioration of water quality in the receiving environment can be the result. The main objective of the present paper is to estimate the total NO3 flux to coastal water bodies due to groundwater discharge in the volcanic Azores archipelago (Portugal). Therefore, 78 springs discharging from perched-water bodies have been monitored since 2003, corresponding to cold (mean = 14.9 °C) and low mineralized (47.2–583 µS/cm) groundwater from the sodium-bicarbonate to sodium-chloride water types. A set of 36 wells was also monitored, presenting groundwater with a higher mineralization. The nitrate content in springs range between 0.02 and 37.4 mg/L, and the most enriched samples are associated to the impact of agricultural activities. The total groundwater NO3 flux to the ocean is estimated in the range of 5.23 × 103 to 190.6 × 103 mol/km2/a (∑ = ~523 × 103 mol/km2/a), exceeding the total flux associated to surface runoff (∑ = ~281 × 103 mol/km2/a). In the majority of the islands, the estimated fluxes are higher than runoff fluxes, with the exception of Pico (47.2%), Corvo (46%) and Faial (7.2%). The total N-NO3 flux estimated in the Azores (~118.9 × 103 mol/km2/a) is in the lower range of estimates made in other volcanic islands. View Full-Text
Keywords: groundwater fluxes; water chemistry; nitrates; coastal waters; Azores groundwater fluxes; water chemistry; nitrates; coastal waters; Azores
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Cruz, J.V.; Andrade, C.; Pacheco, D.; Mendes, S.; Cymbron, R. Nitrates in Groundwater Discharges from the Azores Archipelago: Occurrence and Fluxes to Coastal Waters. Water 2017, 9, 125.

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