This report presents the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey, The Ohio State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to describe the hydrology, water quality, and geochemical factors controlling water quality at the Ohio Management Systems Evaluation Area (MSEA). The Ohio MSEA is located on a 650-acre farm in the Scioto River Valley in Pike County, south-central Ohio. The farm is underlain by an incised bedrock valley filled with about 70 feet of sand and gravel outwash deposits that are covered by a veneer of silty clay alluvium and silty loam and sandy loam soils. Outwash sediment are composed predominantly of dolomite, quartz, and calcite, and have a median organic carbon concentration of 0.39 weight percent. Horizontal hydraulic conductivity of the sediment based on results of multiple-well aquifer tests ranges from 400 to 560 feet per day.
Ground-water flow is from east to west-southwest at an average velocity of 1.5 to 2.5 feet per day. Ground water and surface water at the site are highly interconnected. Big Beaver Creek recharges the outwash aquifer along the eastern edge of the study area, and ground water discharges to the Scioto River at the western edge of the study area. High-stage events on the Scioto River cause frequent flow reversals in the aquifer that allow streamwater to travel a maximum observed distance of 190 feet inland. A zone of oxidizing waters (characterized by high dissolved oxygen concentration and Eh) is found in shallow ground water for several hundred feet adjacent to Big Beaver Creek and the Scioto River. This zone of oxidizing ground water is caused by the periodic inflow of surface waters to the aquifer.
A ground-water budget for the study area indicates that the aquifer received 17.7 inches of recharge during water year 1992; of this amount, 72 percent originated as infiltrating precipitation, 28 percent as infiltration of surface water from Big Beaver Creek, and 0.2 percent as leakage from bedrock.
Areal variation in water quality is caused by areal differences in the relative importance of these three recharge sources. The effects of bedrock leakage are evident only in the northeast corner of the study area. Here, deep outwash waters are transitional in composition between the calcium magnesium bicarbonate waters found elsewhere in the outwash aquifer and the calcium sodium chloride waters of the bedrock aquifer. Mixing calculations indicate that these deep outwash waters are composed of as much as 26 percent bedrock water. In the southern part of the MSEA, ground water is diluted by surface water from Big Beaver Creek as it recharges the aquifer through a sand and gravel streambed. At the northeast corner of the MSEA, however, Big Beaver Creek flows across a shale streambed through which no infiltration occurs.
Redox reactions in the outwash aquifer control variations in aquifer chemistry with depth. From the water table to about 40 feet below land surface, oxidizing conditions are characterized by the presence of dissolved oxygen and nitrates in ground water, Eh greater than 200 millivolts, ferrihydrite coatings on sediment grains, and the absence of dissolved iron and manganese. From about 40 feet below land surface to the base of the aquifer, reducing conditions are characterized by dissolved oxygen concentrations less than 2 mg/L, Eh less than 200 millivolts, and the presence of dissolved iron and manganese. Denitrification in the reducing zone naturally remediates anthropogenic nitrate contamination of the aquifer while oxidizing pyrite in the aquifer sediment.
? The Ohio State University, Department of Geological Sciences, Columbus, Ohio.