Extensive flooding in the upper Mississippi River Basin during summer 1993 had a significant effect on the water quality of the Mississippi River. To evaluate the change in temporal distribution and transport of dissolved constituents in the Mississippi River, six water samples were collected by a discharge-weighted method from July through September 1993 near Thebes, Illinois. Sampling at this location provided water-quality information from the upper Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Illinois River Basins.
Dissolved major constituents that were analyzed in each of the samples included bicarbonate, calcium (Ca), carbonate (CO3), chloride (C1), dissolved organic carbon, magnesium (Mg), potassium (K), silica (SiO2) , sodium (Na), and sulfate (SO4). Dissolved nutrients included ammonium ion (NH4), nitrate (NO3), nitrite (NO2), and orthophosphate (PO4). Dissolved trace elements included aluminum (A1), arsenic (As), barium (Ba), boron (B), beryllium (Be), bromide (Br), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), cobalt, (Co), copper (Cu), fluoride (F), iron (Fe), lead, lithium (Li), manganese (Mn), mercury (Hg), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), strontium (Sr), thallium, uranium (U), vanadium (V), and zinc (Zn). Other physical properties of water that were measured included specific conductance, pH and suspended-sediment concentration (particle size, less than 63 micrometers).
Results of this study indicated that large quantifies of dissolved constituents were transported through the river system. Generally, pH, alkalinity, and specific conductance and the concentrations of B, Br, Ca, C1, Cr, K, Li, Mg, Mo, Na, SO4, Sr, U, and V increased as water discharge decreased, while concentrations of F, Hg, and suspended sediment sharply decreased as water discharge decreased after the crest of the flood. Concentrations of other constituents, such as A1, As, Ba, Be, Co, Cu, Ni, NO3, NO2, NH4, PO 4, and SiO2, varied with time as discharge decreased after the crest of the flood.
For most constituents, the load transported during floods generally is much greater than that transported during low-flow conditions. However, for Cd, Cr, Fe, Mn, V, and Zn, loads increased substantially as water discharge decreased after the crest of the flood.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Major ions, nutrients, and trace elements in the Mississippi River near Thebes, Illinois, July through September 1993