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Open AccessArticle

Differentiation of Surface Water and Groundwater in a Karst System Using Anthropogenic Signatures

Department of Environmental Science, Buena Vista University, 610 W 4th ST, Storm Lake, IA 50588, USA
Department of Geography, Geology, and The Environment, Illinois State University, Campus Box 4400, Normal, IL 61704, USA
Department of Geology & Geophysics, Louisiana State University, E235 Howe-Russell-Kniffen, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(4), 148;
Received: 24 January 2019 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 26 March 2019 / Published: 29 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrogeology)
Surface water–groundwater interaction within a karstic system enhances contaminant transport, making karst aquifers susceptible to anthropogenic practices. Contaminated waters related to agricultural and animal husbandry in northwestern Illinois (USA) prompted this investigation. Six streams and five springs were sampled for 16 parameters to assess anthropogenic influences. Statistical analyses revealed differences in 13 of 16 parameters between the stream and spring waters. Rock–water interaction was identified as the dominant mechanism defining the chemistry for both waters, which were classified as Ca-Mg HCO3. Elevated nitrate as nitrogen (NO3-N), chloride (Cl), sodium, and potassium concentrations indicate that human activities have influenced the quality of both water types. All streams and springs had NO3-N concentration exceeding background levels, with concentrations ranging from 2.9 to 14.5 mg/L and 2.9 to 30.1 mg/L, respectively. NO3-N/Cl relationships at individual locations showed elevated concentrations of NO3-N due to fertilizers, while the spring waters were influenced by manure, septic effluent, or mixed sources. The presence of coliform supports the likelihood of animal or human waste influences on waters. Dissimilarities within their chemical fingerprints can be traced to aid in differentiating sources within the waters. View Full-Text
Keywords: karst; geochemistry; Nitrate; Chloride; springs; agriculture karst; geochemistry; Nitrate; Chloride; springs; agriculture
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Maas, B.; Peterson, E.W.; Honings, J.; Oberhelman, A.; Oware, P.; Rusthoven, I.; Watson, A. Differentiation of Surface Water and Groundwater in a Karst System Using Anthropogenic Signatures. Geosciences 2019, 9, 148.

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