Evaluation and interpretation of historical major-ion chemistry for the Lodgepole Creek Watershed, Nebraska

  • Jon C. Atkinson
Original Article


Lodgepole Creek, typically an ephemeral or intermittent stream, drains much of Kimball, Cheyenne, and Deuel counties [approximately 2180 mi2 (5646 km2)] in the Panhandle of western Nebraska (USA). Examination of historical (1970–1980) water-quality data [major cations and anions and total dissolved solids (TDS)] for Lodgepole Creek revealed that the mineralization is relatively low (200–600 mg/L TDS with an all-sampling station mean of 380 mg/L) and relatively uniform throughout its course in Nebraska. However, the t test statistic that was used to compare means for eight geochemical parameters (Ca, Mg, Na, K, HCO3, Cl, SO4, specific conductance) reveals that many mean pair differences are statistically significant, indicating mathematically/statistically unequal means. Ca−HCO3 is the predominant geochemical facies, and it infrequently yields to Na−HCO3 facies water. Gibb’s diagrams reveal that rock/mineral weathering is the dominant hydrogeochemical process occurring along the course of Lodgepole Creek in Nebraska. Based on the Gibbs worldwide interpretation of surface-water quality, evaporation-crystallization and atmospheric precipitation are secondary hydrochemical mechanisms. Pan evaporation of surface water approaches 127 cm (50 in.)/year; consequently, evaporation most likely plays a significant role in the geochemistry of Lodgepole Creek flow. Modeling with Visual MINTEQ (public-domain geochemical speciation software) documents slight supersaturation of calcite in 90% of the sample analyses. Scatter plots of milliequivalent-per-liter concentrations for selected anions and cations reveal the impact of silicate mineral (e.g., feldspar) weathering on the aqueous geochemistry and the occurrence of ion exchange (aqueous calcium and magnesium exchanged for sodium and potassium) throughout the watershed. These ubiquitous feldspar minerals most likely originated along the eastern slope of the Front Range.


Geochemistry Modeling NETPATH-WIN Surface-water quality Visual MINTEQ Nebraska 



This article is dedicated to the memory of Samuel B. Treves, Ph.D. (1925–2013), a long-time (46-year) professor in the Department of Geology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he also served as Chair of the Department and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I was honored to have Dr. Treves as a geology professor and undergraduate academic counselor (1967–1970) and a member of my M.S. thesis committee (1973). Additionally, the author greatly appreciates the highly professional effort of Mr. Les Howard, Conservation and Survey Division, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, in preparing Fig. 1.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon C. Atkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.San AntonioUSA

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