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Geochemical baseline studies and relations between water quality and streamflow in the upper Blackfoot Watershed, Montana: data for July 1997-December 1998

Open-File Report 2001-59

By:
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Abstract

We used ultraclean sampling techniques to study the solute (operationally defined as <0.2 ?m) surface water geochemistry at five sites along the Upper Blackfoot River and four sites along the Landers Fork, some in more detail and more regularly than others. We collected samples also from Hogum Creek, a tributary to the Blackfoot, from Copper Creek, a tributary to the Landers Fork, and from ground water seeps contributing to the flow along the Landers Fork. To better define the physical dynamics of the hydrologic system and to determine geochemical loads, we measured streamflow at all the sites where we took samples for water quality analysis. The Upper Blackfoot River, which drains historic mines ca. 20 Km upstream of the study area, had higher trace metal concentrations than did the Landers Fork, which drains the pristine Scapegoat Wilderness area. In both rivers, many of the major elements were inversely related to streamflow, and at some sites, several show a hysteresis effect in which the concentrations were lower on the rising limb of the hydrograph than on the falling limb. However, many of the trace elements followed far more irregular trends, especially in the Blackfoot River. Elements such as As, Cu, Fe, Mn, S, and Zn exhibited complex and variable temporal patterns, which included almost no response to streamflow differences, increased concentrations following a summer storm and at the start of snowmelt in the spring, and/or increased concentrations throughout the course of spring runoff. In summary, complex interactions between the timing and magnitude of streamflow with physical and chemical processes within the watershed appeared to greatly influence the geochemistry at the sites, and streamflow values alone were not good predictors of solute concentrations in the rivers.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Geochemical baseline studies and relations between water quality and streamflow in the upper Blackfoot Watershed, Montana: data for July 1997-December 1998
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2001-59
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2001
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
94 p.