The relation between landscape characteristics and water chemistry on the Delmarva Peninsula can be determined through a principal-component analysis of basin characteristics. Two basin types were defined by factor scores: (1) well-drained basins, characterized by combinations of a low percentage of forest cover, a low percentage of poorly drained soil, and elevated channel slope; and (2) poorly drained basins, characterized by a combinations of an elevated percentage of forest cover, an elevated percentage of poorly drained soil, and low channel slopes. Results from base- flow sampling of 29 basins during spring 1991 indicate that water chemistry of the two basin types differ significantly. Concentrations of calcium, magnesium, potassium, alkalinity, chloride, and nitrate are elevated in well- drained basins, and specific conductance is elevated. Concentrations of aluminum, dissolved organic carbon, sodium, and silica are elevated in poorly drained basins whereas specific conductance is low. The chemical patterns found in well-drained basins can be attributed to the application of agricultural chemicals, and those in poorly drained basins can be attributed to ground-water flowpaths. These results indicate that basin types determined by a quantitative analysis of basin characteristics can be related statistically to differences in base-flow chemistry, and that the observed statistical differences can be related to major processes that affect water chemistry.
Additional publication details
Hydrologic landscapes on the Delmarva Peninsula Part 1: Drainage basin type and base-flow chemistry