Substantial flowpath-related variability of 87Sr/86Sr is observed in groundwaters collected from the Trout Lake watershed of northern Wisconsin. In the extensive shallow aquifer composed of sandy glacial outwash, groundwater is recharged either by seepage from lakes or by precipitation that infiltrates the inter-lake uplands. 87Sr/86Sr of groundwater derived mainly as seepage from a precipitation-dominated lake near the head of the watershed decreases with progressive water chemical evolution along its flowpath due primarily to enhanced dissolution of relatively unradiogenic plagioclase. In contrast, 87Sr/86Sr of groundwater derived mainly from precipitation that infiltrates upland areas is substantially greater than that of precipitation collected from the watershed, due to suppression of plagioclase dissolution together with preferential leaching of Sr from radiogenic phases such as K-feldspar and biotite. The results of a column experiment that simulated the effects of changing residence time of water in the aquifer sand indicate that mobile waters obtain relatively unradiogenic Sr, whereas stagnant waters obtain relatively radiogenic Sr. Nearly the entire range of strontium-isotope composition observed in groundwaters from the watershed was measured in the experimental product waters. The constant mobility of water along groundwater recharge flowpaths emanating from the lakes promotes the dissolution of relatively unradiogenic plagioclase, perhaps due to effective dispersal of clay mineral nuclei resulting from dissolution reactions. In contrast, episodic stagnation in the unsaturated zone along the upland recharge flowpaths suppresses plagioclase dissolution, perhaps due to accumulation of clay mineral nuclei on its reactive surfaces. Differences in redox conditions along these contrasting flowpaths probably enhance the observed differences in strontium isotope behavior. This study demonstrates that factors other than the calculated state of mineral saturation must be considered when attempting to simulate chemical evolution along flowpaths, and that reaction models must be able to incorporate changing contributions from reacting minerals in the calculations.
Additional publication details
Kinetic and mineralogic controls on the evolution of groundwater chemistry and 87Sr/86Sr in a sandy silicate aquifer, northern Wisconsin, USA