Karstic aquifers are highly susceptible to rapid infiltration of river water, particularly during periods of high flow. Following a period of sustained rainfall in the Suwannee River basin, Florida, USA, the stage of the Suwannee River rose from 3.0 to 5.88 m above mean sea level in April 1996 and discharge peaked at 360 m3/s. During these high-flow conditions, water from the Suwannee River migrated directly into the karstic Upper Floridan aquifer, the main source of water supply for the area. Changes in the chemical composition of groundwater were quantified using naturally occurring geochemical tracers and mass-balance modeling techniques. Mixing of river water with groundwater was indicated by a decrease in the concentrations of calcium, silica, and 222Rn; and by an increase in dissolved organic carbon (DOC), tannic acid, and chloride, compared to low-flow conditions in water from a nearby monitoring well, Wingate Sink, and Little River Springs. The proportion (fraction) of river water in groundwater ranged from 0.13 to 0.65 at Wingate Sink and from 0.5 to 0.99 at well W-17258, based on binary mixing models using various tracers. The effectiveness of a natural tracer in quantifying mixing of river water and groundwater was related to differences in tracer concentration of the two end members and how conservatively the tracer reacted in the mixed water. Solutes with similar concentrations in the two end-member waters (Na, Mg, K, Cl, SO4, SiO2) were not as effective tracers for quantifying mixing of river water and groundwater as those with larger differences in end-member concentrations (Ca, tannic acid, DOC, 222Rn, HCO3). ?? Springer-Verlag.
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Hydrochemical evidence for mixing of river water and groundwater during high-flow conditions, lower Suwannee River basin, Florida, USA