Aqueous sulfate concentrations were measured in incident precipitation, canopy throughfall, stemflow, soil water, groundwater, and streamwater at three locations in a 41 ha forested watershed at Panola Mountain State Park in the Georgia Piedmont. To evaluate the variations in sulfate concentrations, sampling intensity was increased during storms by automated collection of surface water and by incremental subsampling of rainfall, throughfall, and soil solution. Canopy throughfall, stemflow, and runoff from a bedrock outcrop in the watershed headwaters were enriched in sulfate relative to incident precipitation due to washoff of dry deposition that accumulated between storms. Soil waters collected from zero-tension lysimeters at 15 cm and 50 cm below land surface also were enriched in sulfate relative to precipitation, groundwater and streamwater. Sulfate concentrations in groundwater and in streamwater at base flow varied in an annual sinusoidal pattern with winter maxima and summer minima. Stream discharge and groundwater levels varied in a similar annual pattern in phase with the sulfate concentrations. The temporal variability of sulfate concentrations at most groundwater sites was small relative to the spatial variability among groundwater sites. Streamwater sulfate concentrations during base flow were controlled by low-sulfate groundwater discharge. As flow increased, an increasing proportion of shallow, high-sulfate groundwater and soil water contributed to streamflow. The dominant control on stream sulfate concentration shifted from sulfate retention by adsorption in the mineral soil at base flow to mobilization of sulfate from the upper, organic-rich horizons of the soil at high flow. ?? 1993.
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Variations in aqueous sulfate concentrations at Panola Mountain, Georgia