The research site at Otis Air Base, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has been developed for hydrogeological and geochemical studies of sewage-effluent contaminated groundwater since 1982. Research of hydrologic properties, transport, and chemical and biological processes is ongoing, but the origin of background water chemistry has not been determined. The principal geochemical process giving rise to the observed background water chemistry is CO2-controlled hydrolysis of Na feldspar. Geochemical modeling demonstrated that CO2 sources could vary over the project area. Analyses of unsaturated zone gases showed variations in CO2 which were dependent on land use and vegetative cover in the area of groundwater recharge. Measurements of CO2 in unsaturated-zone gases showed that concentrations of total inorganic C in recharge water should range from about 0.035 to 1.0 mmoles/L in the vicinity of Otis Air Base. Flux of CO2 from the unsaturated zone varied for a principal land uses, ranging from 86 gC/m2/yr for low vegetated areas to 1630 gC/m2/yr for a golf course. Carbon dioxide flux from woodlands was 220 gC/m2/yr, lower than reported fluxes of 500 to 600 gC/m2/yr for woodlands in a similar climate. Carbon dioxide flux from grassy areas was 540 gC/m2/yr, higher than reported fluxes of 230 to 490 gC/m2/yr for grasslands in a similar climate.
Additional publication details
Effects of carbon dioxide variations in the unsaturated zone on water chemistry in a glacial-outwash aquifer