Arsenic concentrations exceeding the U.S. EPA's 10 ??g/L standard are common in glacial aquifers in the midwestern United States. Previous studies have indicated that arsenic occurs naturally in these aquifers in association with metal-(hydr)oxides and is released to groundwater under reducing conditions generated by microbial oxidation of organic matter. Despite this delineation of the arsenic source and mechanism of arsenic mobilization, identification of arsenic-impacted aquifers is hindered by the heterogeneous and discontinuous nature of glacial sediments. In much of the Midwest, the hydrostratigraphy of glacial deposits is not sufficiently characterized to predict where elevated arsenic concentrations are likely to occur. This case study from southeast Wisconsin presents a detailed characterization of local stratigraphy, hydrostratigraphy, and geochemistry of the Pleistocene glacial deposits and underlying Silurian dolomite. Analyses of a single core, water chemistry data, and well construction reports enabled identification of two aquifers separated by an organic-rich aquitard. The upper, unconfined aquifer provides potable water, whereas arsenic generally exceeds 10 ??g/L in the deeper aquifer. Although coring and detailed hydrostratigraphic characterization are often considered impractical, our results demonstrate that a single core improved interpretation of the complex lithology and hydrostratigraphy. This detailed characterization of hydrostratigraphy facilitated development of well construction guidelines and lays the ground work for further studies of the complex interactions among aquifer sediments, hydrogeology, water chemistry, and microbiology that lead to elevated arsenic in groundwater. Copyright ?? 2009 The Author(s). Journal compilation ?? 2009 National Ground Water Association.
Additional publication details
Arsenic Geochemistry and Hydrostratigraphy in Midwestern U.S. Glacial Deposits