Groundwater and stream water data collected at three headwater catchments in the Neversink River watershed indicate that base flow is sustained by groundwater from two sources: a shallow flow system within the till and soil and a deep flow system within bedrock fractures and bedding planes that discharges as perennial springs. Data from eight wells finished near the till/bedrock interface indicate that saturated conditions are not maintained in the shallow flow system during most summers. In contrast, the discharge of a perennial spring remained constant during two summer rainstorms, providing evidence that the deep flow system is disconnected from the shallow flow system in summer. Discharge from perennial springs was the principal source of streamflow in a headwater reach during low flow. Mean NO3/- concentrations were 20-25 ??mol L-1 in five perennial springs during the summer but only 5-10 ??mol L-1 in shallow groundwater. Thus the deep flow system does not reflect typical NO3/- concentrations in the soil during summer. A hydrologic budget at a headwater drainage reveals that March and late fall are the principal groundwater recharge periods. Residence time modeling based on analyses of 18O and 35S indicates that groundwater in the deep flow system is 6-22 months old. These data indicate that summer base flow largely originates from previous dormant seasons when available soil NO3/- is greater. In these Catskill watersheds, high base flow concentrations of NO3/- during summer do not provide sufficient evidence that the atmospheric N deposition rate exceeds the demand of terrestrial vegetation.
Additional publication details
Effect of groundwater springs on NO3/- concentrations during summer in Catskill Mountain streams