Delineating the nature and extent of ground-water inputs is necessary to understand the hydrochemistry of large lakes. Characterizing the interaction between ground water and large lakes (e.g., the Great Lakes) is facilitated by the use of geochemical and isotopic data. In this study, pore waters were extracted from sediment cores collected from Saginaw Bay and the surrounding Saginaw lowland area; the geochemistry and stable isotope signature of these pore waters were used to identify sources for the water and solutes. Cores from Saginaw Bay and the Saginaw lowland area yielded strong vertical gradients in chloride concentrations, suggesting that a high-chloride source is present at depth. The spatial distribution of cores with elevated chloride concentrations corresponds to the regional distribution of chloride in ground water. Most of the Saginaw lowland area cores contain water with significantly lower ??18O values than modern meteoric water, suggesting that the water had been recharged during a much cooler climate. The ??18O values measured in pore waters (from Saginaw Bay cores) containing high chloride concentrations are similar to modern meteoric water; however, values lighter than modern meteoric water are encountered at depth. Chloride:bromide ratios, used to distinguish between different chloride sources, identify formation brine as the likely source for chloride. Transport models indicate that a combination of advection and diffusion is responsible for the observed Saginaw lowland area pore-water profiles. Pore-water profiles in Saginaw Bay sediments are produced primarily by diffusion and require significantly less time to evolve. An upward flux of solutes derived from formation brine could occur elsewhere within the Great Lakes region and significantly affect the geochemical cycling of chloride and other contaminants (e.g., trace metals).
Additional publication details
Ground-water, large-lake interactions in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron: A geochemical and isotopic approach