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Hydrogeologic comparison of an acidic-lake basin with a neutral-lake basin in the West-Central Adirondack Mountains, New York

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Abstract

Two small headwater lake basins that receive similar amounts of acidic atmospheric deposition have significantly different lake outflow pH values; pH at Panther Lake (neutral) ranges from about 4.7 to 7; that at Woods Lake (acidic) ranges from about 4.3 to 5. A hydrologic analysis, which included monthly water budgets, hydrograph analysis, examination of flow duration and runoff recession curves, calculation of ground-water storage, and an analysis of lateral flow capacity of the soil, indicates that differences in lakewater pH can be attributed to differences in the ground-water contribution to the lakes. A larger percentage of the water discharged from the neutral lake is derived from ground water than that from the acidic lake. Ground water has a higher pH resulting from a sufficiently long residence time for neutralizing chemical reactions to occur with the till. The difference in ground-water contribution is attributed to a more extensive distribution of thick till (<3 m) in the neutral-lake basin than in the acidic-lake basin; average thickness of till in the neutral-lake basin is 24 m whereas that in the other is 2.3 m. During the snowmelt period, as much as three months of accumulated precipitation may be released within two weeks causing the lateral flow capacity of the deeper mineral soil to be exceeded in the neutral-lake basin. This excess water moves over and through the shallow acidic soil horizons and causes the lakewater pH to decrease during snowmelt

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Peters, N.E., Murdoch, P.S. Hydrogeologic comparison of an acidic-lake basin with a neutral-lake basin in the West-Central Adirondack Mountains, New York. Water Air Soil Pollut 26, 387–402 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00280693

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Keywords

  • Flow Duration
  • Acidic Lake
  • Snowmelt Period
  • Recession Curve
  • Adirondack Mountain