Contaminant sources and processes affecting spring water quality in a typical karst basin (Hongjiadu Basin, SW China): insights provided by hydrochemical and isotopic data
- 77 Downloads
Springs are an important source of drinking water supply in mountainous karst areas of SW China. However, the quality of many spring waters has deteriorated greatly in recent years, which leads to a significant problem of drinking water scarcity. In this study, hydrochemistry and stable sulfur and oxygen isotopic compositions of SO42− (δ34S and δ18OSO4) of 38 representative samples of waters (incl. spring water, surface water, rainwater, and sewage) from the Hongjiadu Basin, Guizhou province, SW China, were investigated in order to identify the sources of contaminates in spring waters and trace the processes affecting the karst groundwater quality. Approximately 28% of the total investigated springs has been suffered from serious contamination and the concentrations of NO3−, SO42−, and total iron (TFe) in many spring waters have exceeded the standards for drinking water. The springs that have NO3− concentrations of > 30 mg/L are concentrated in residential and agricultural areas, suggesting that NO3− in spring water are mainly derived from chemical fertilizers, manure, and sewage. δ34S and δ18OSO4 data indicate that SO42− in spring water mainly originates from sulfide oxidation, acid rain, and sewage. Furthermore, the high δ34S and δ18OSO4 values of SO42− in some spring waters may be related to the occurrence of bacterial sulfate reduction. Some springs that are discharged from abandoned coal mines have SO42− concentrations of > 250 mg/L, demonstrating that mining activities have accelerated the deterioration of spring water quality. Also, springs with TFe concentrations of > 0.3 mg/L are discharged from coal-bearing strata, revealing that iron in spring waters is mainly derived from the oxidation of pyrite. Our results show that the karst spring waters are highly vulnerable to anthropogenic contaminations and human activities, such as agricultural fertilizing and sewage and waste disposal as well as mining activities, which exert a great impact on the quality of groundwater in karst areas.
KeywordsSpring Water quality Hydrochemistry Sulfur and oxygen isotopes Karst groundwater Hongjiadu
We are grateful to anonymous reviewers and the editor for their constructive comments. We acknowledge Zhijun Wang and Amelia Huang for polishing the article.
This study is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 41702278) and the China Geological Survey Project (grant no. DD20160285).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Bottrell S, Tellam J, Bartlett R, Hughes A (2008) Isotopic composition of sulfate as a tracer of natural and anthropogenic influences on groundwater geochemistry in an urban sandstone aquifer, Birmingham, UK. Appl Geochem 23:2382–2394. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2008.03.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cravotta CA (1994) Secondary iron-sulfate minerals as sources of sulfate and acidity: the geochemical volution of acidic ground water at a reclaimed surface coal mine in Pennsylvania. In: Alpers CN, Blowes DW (eds) Environmental geochemistry of sulfide oxidation, American Chemical Society Symposium Series, vol 550, pp 345–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dugin K, Dongchan K, Bernhard M et al (2009) Identification of nitrate and sulfate sources in groundwater using dual stable isotope approaches for an agricultural area with different land use (Chuncheon, mid-eastern Korea). Agric Ecosyst Environ 132(3–4):223–231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2009.04.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hosono T, Siringan F, Yamanaka T, Umezawa Y, Onodera SI, Nakano T, Taniguchi M (2010) Application of multi-isotope ratios to study the source and quality of urban groundwater in Metro Manila, Philippines. Appl Geochem 25:900–909. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2010.03.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jakóbczyk-Karpierz S, Sitek S, Jakobsen R, Kowalczyk A (2016) Geochemical and isotopic study to determine sources and processes affecting nitrate and sulphate in groundwater influenced by intensive human activity - carbonate aquifer Gliwice (southern Poland). Appl Geochem 76:168–181. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.12.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Krouse HR, Crinenko VA (eds) (1991) Stable isotopes: natural and anthropogenic sulphur in the environment. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Krouse HR, Mayer B (2000) Sulphur and oxygen isotopes in sulphate. In: Cook PG, Herczeg AL (eds) Environmental tracers in subsurface hydrology. Kluwer Academic Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
- Ledoux STM, Szynkiewicz A, Faiia AM et al (2016) Chemical and isotope compositions of shallow groundwater in areas impacted by hydraulic fracturing and surface mining in the Central Appalachian Basin, Eastern United States. Appl Geochem 71:73–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.05.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Li XD, Liu CQ, Harue M, Li SL, Liu XL (2010) The use of environmental isotopic (C, Sr, S) and hydrochemical tracers to characterize anthropogenic effects on karst groundwater quality: a case study of the Shuicheng Basin, SW China. Appl Geochem 25:1924–1936. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2010.10.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Marques JM, Graça H, Eggenkamp HGM, Neves O, Carreira PM, Matias MJ, Mayer B, Nunes D, Trancoso VN (2013) Isotopic and hydrochemical data as indicators of recharge areas, flow paths and water–rock interaction in the Caldas da Rainha–Quinta das Janelas thermomineral carbonate rock aquifer (Central Portugal). J Hydrol 476(18):302–313. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.10.047 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McMahon PB, Carney CP, Poeter EP et al (2010) Use of geochemical, isotopic, and age tracer data to develop models of groundwater flow for the purpose of water management, northern High Plains aquifer, USA. Appl Geochem 25:910–922. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2010.04.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Merchán D, Otero N, Soler A, Causapé J (2014) Main sources and processes affecting dissolved sulphates and nitrates in a small irrigated basin (Lerma Basin, Zaragoza, Spain): isotopic characterization. Agric Ecosyst Environ 195:127–138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2014.05.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Négrel P, Pauwels H (2004) Interaction between different groundwaters in Brittany catchments (France): characterizing multiple sources through strontium- and sulphur isotope tracing. Water Air Soil Pollut 151:261–285. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:WATE.0000009912.04798.b7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pu T, He Y, Zhang T, Wu J, Zhu G, Chang L (2013) Isotopic and geochemical evolution of ground and river waters in a karst dominated geological setting: a case study from Lijiang basin, South-Asia monsoon region. Appl Geochem 33:199–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.02.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Puig R, Folch A, Menció A, Soler A, Mas-Pla J (2013) Multi-isotopic study (15N, 34S, 18O, 13C) to identify processes affecting nitrate and sulfate in response to local and regional groundwater mixing in a large-scale flow system. Appl Geochem 32:129–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.10.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Zhou J, Zhang Y, Zhou A, Liu C, Cai H, Liu Y (2016) Application of hydrochemistry and stable isotopes (δ34S, δ18O and δ37Cl) to trace natural and anthropogenic influences on the quality of groundwater in the piedmont region, Shijiazhuang, China. Appl Geochem 71:63–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.05.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar