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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Geochemical and Physical Connectivity Between Surface Water and Groundwater in the Anchorage Watershed

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 07/01/2009
End Date 06/30/2010
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 09/21/2011 10:46PM
Keywords groundwater


  LeeAnn Munk

Student Researchers
  Megan Cardenas


The chemical composition of natural fresh water is effected by meteoric precipitation, rock-water interactions and the physical connections between surface and ground water. Surface water and groundwater usually have different chemical signatures because of varying amounts of end-members contributing to each. For the Anchorage watershed the relationship between surface water and ground water has not been quantified on a seasonal basis. The proposed research will investigate the major trace element and stable isotopic signatures of both surface water and groundwater in order to model their possible connections. This is important because of the heavy reliance of many citizens on groundwater as a major source of primary drinking water. The groundwater table in Anchorage is relatively high and therefore there are likely significant contributions of surface water to the aquifer. Because surface water is more susceptible to contamination as it is exposed at the surface, it is imperative to understand the contributions it makes to groundwater.

The flow path of Chester Creek at the UAA campus and a monitoring well near the Ecosystem-Biomedical Health Laboratory (EBL) will serve as the sampling sites for surface water and groundwater respectively. Water samples will be collected and in situ measurements made on a monthly basis for one year. Chemical analysis for major trace elements, anions and cations, and the stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen will be analyzed at the ASET lab and the Stable Isotope Facility at UAA. Data analysis and modeling of major elemental and ionic abundances will show seasonal variations and possible anthropogenic influences. Stable isotope ratios will be used to establish the relative contributions of groundwater to meteoric water to streams. The knowledge gained will provide a baseline understanding of the surface groundwater connection in Anchorage that may be used by future researchers and policy makers to protect this natural resource and water supply.

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