Environmental Geology

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 541–557 | Cite as

Tracing sources of carbon in urban groundwater using δ13CTDIC ratios

  • J. Rueedi
  • A. A. Cronin
  • R. G. Taylor
  • B. L. Morris
Original Article

Abstract

Total dissolved inorganic carbon (TDIC) and its stable isotope ratio δ13CTDIC are used to trace the evolution of the carbon system of groundwater in three UK Permo-Triassic sandstone aquifers. Samples were collected from multilevel piezometers, open boreholes and sewer sampling points in the British Midlands (Nottingham, Birmingham and Doncaster) to evaluate both local and regional variations in δ13CTDIC. δ13C samples of matrix and pore water have also been analysed in each aquifer to further constrain the interpretations. Combining δ13CTDIC ratios with measurements of TDIC and pH clearly distinguishes the principal processes underlying the geochemical evolution of groundwater in Triassic sandstone aquifers, where processes can be both natural (e.g. carbonate dissolution) and anthropogenic (sewer-derived recharge). The paper shows that δ13CTDIC resolves ambiguities that arise from the interpretation of TDIC and pH measurements in isolation. Field measurements demonstrate that, under natural conditions, the carbonate system evolves similarly in each aquifer. An open-system evolution during recharge largely saturates the groundwater with carbonate depending upon its availability in the sandstone matrix. The contribution of sewer exfiltration to urban recharge is readily distinguished by lower pH and higher TDIC values without significant changes in δ13CTDIC.

Keywords

Carbon 13 TDIC Permo-Triassic sandstone Sewage Urban groundwater 

References

  1. Appelo CAJ, Postma D (1993) Geochemistry, groundwater and pollution. Balkema Publishers, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  2. Bath AH, Edmunds WM, Andrews JN (1979) Paleoclimatic trends deduced from the hydrochemistry of a Triassic Sandstone Aquifer, United Kingdom. Paper presented at the Isotope Hydrology Symposium 228, Germany, 1978, 2: 545-568, IAEA ViennaGoogle Scholar
  3. Bath AH, Milodowski AE, Strong GE (1987) Fluid flow and diagenesis in the East Midlands Triassic sandstone aquifer. In: Goff JC, Williams BPJ (eds) Fluid flow in sedimentary basins, aquifers. Geological Society Special Publication, Blackwell Scientific Publications, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Burleigh R, Matthews K, Lesse M (1984) Consensus δ13C values. Radiocarbon 26:46–53Google Scholar
  5. Charsley TJ, Rathbone PA, Lowe DJ (1990) Nottingham: a geological background for planning and development. BGS Technical Report WA/90/1Google Scholar
  6. Clarke ID, Fritz P (1997) Environmental isotopes in hydrogeology. Lewis Publishers, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  7. Craig H (1953) The geochemistry of stable carbon isotopes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 3:53–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cronin AA, Taylor RG, Powell KL, Barrett MH, Trowsdale SA, Lerner DN (2003) Temporal variations in the depth-specific hydrochemistry and sewage-related microbiology of an urban sandstone aquifer, Nottingham, United Kingdom. Hydrogeol J 11:205–216Google Scholar
  9. Cronin AA, Rueedi J, Morris BL (2005) The effectiveness of selected microbial and chemical indicators to detect sewer leakage impacts on urban groundwater quality. Paper presented at the 10th international conference on Urban Drainage, Copenhagen, 21–26 August 2005Google Scholar
  10. Deines P, Langmuir D, Harmon RS (1974) Stable carbon isotopes and the existence of a gas phase in the evolution of carbonate groundwaters. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 38:1147–1164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Domenico PA, Schwartz FW (1998) Physical & Chemical Hydrogeology, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Edmunds WME, Morgan-Jones M (1976) Geochemistry of groundwaters in British Triassic Sandstones: The Wolverhampton-East Shropshire Area. Q J Eng Geol 9:73–101Google Scholar
  13. Edmunds WM, Smedley PL (2000) Residence time indicators in groundwater: the East Midlands Triassic sandstone aquifer. Appl Geochem 15:737–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Edmunds WM, Bath AH, Miles DL (1982) Hydrochemical evolution of the East Midlands Triassic sandstone aquifer, England. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 46(11):2069–2081CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elliot T, Andrews JN, Edmunds WME (1999) Hydrochemical trends, palaeorecharge and groundwater ages in the fissured Chalk aquifer of the London and Berkshire Basins, UK. Appl Geochem 14:333–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elliot T, Chadha DS, Younger PL (2001) Water quality impacts and palaeohydrogeology in the East Yorkshire Chalk Aquifer, UK. Q J Eng Geol 34:385–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Evans GV, Otlet RL, Wassell LL, Bath AH (1983) Verification of the presence of Carbon-14 in secondary carbonates within a sandstone aquifer and its hydrological implications, IAEA Publication Ref: IAEA-SM-270/66:577–589Google Scholar
  18. Fernandes SAP, Bettiol W, Cerri CC, Camargo P (2005) Sewage sludge effects on gas fluxes at the soil-atmosphere interface, on soil δ13C and on total soil carbon and nitrogen. Geoderma 125:49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ford M, Tellam JH (1994) Source, type and extent of inorganic contamination within the Birmingham urban aquifer system, UK. J Hydrol 156:101–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fritz P, Fontes J-Ch (1980) Handbook of environmental isotope geochemistry, vol. 1. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  21. Hackley K, Liu C, Coleman D (1996) Environmental isotope characteristics of landfill leachates and gases. Ground Water 34:827–836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jackson D, Lloyd JW (1983) Groundwater chemistry of the Birmingham Triassic Sandstone aquifer and its relation to structure. Q J Eng Geol 16:135–142Google Scholar
  23. Langmuir D (1997) Aqueous environmental geochemistry. Prentice-Hall Inc., New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  24. Meckenstock RU, Morasch B, Griebler C, Richnow HH (2004) Stable isotopes fractionation analysis as a tool to monitor biodegradation in contaminated aquifers. J Contam Hydrol 75:215–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Morris BL, Darling WG, Cronin AA, Rueedi J, Whitehead EJ, Gooddy DC (2006) Use of groundwater age indicators to assess recharge to a Permo-Triassic sandstone aquifer beneath a suburb of Doncaster, UK. Hydrogeol J 70:1–19Google Scholar
  26. North J, Frew D, Peake BM (2004) The use of carbon and nitrogen isotopes ratios to identify landfill leachate contamination: Green Island landfill, Dunedin, New Zealand. Environ Int 30:631–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Parker JW, Perkins MA, Foster SSD (1982) Groundwater quality stratification—its relevance to sampling strategy. In: Commisie voor Hydrologisch Onderzoek, TNO, Netherlands, Publication No. 31Google Scholar
  28. Pawelleck F, Veizer J (1994) Carbon cycle in the Upper Danube and its tributaries: δ13CDIC constraints. Israel J Earth Sci 43:187–194Google Scholar
  29. Plummer LN, Prestemon EC, Parkhurst DL (1994) An interactive code (NETPATH) for modeling NET geochemical reactions along a flow path—Version 2.0. U.S. Geological Survey. Water-Resources Investigations Report 94–4169, p 130Google Scholar
  30. Powell KL, Taylor RG, Cronin AA, Barrett MH, Pedley S, Sellwood J, Trowsdale S, Lerner DN (2003) Microbial contamination of two urban sandstone aquifers in the UK. Water Res 37:339–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rueedi J, Cronin AA, Morris BL (2004) AISUWRS Work-package 4: Field investigations interim report. British Geological Survey Commissioned Report, CR/04/022N. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  32. Rueedi J, Cronin AA, Morris BL (2006) Estimating sewer leakage using hydrochemistry sampling of multilevel piezometers. Water Res (in review)Google Scholar
  33. Smedley PL, Brewerton LJ (1997) The natural (baseline) quality of groundwater in England and Wales. Part 2: the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. British Geological Survey Technical Report WD/97/52. British Geological Research, Keyworth, Nottingham, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  34. Smedley PL, Edmunds WM (2002) Redox patterns and trace-element behaviour in the East Midlands Triassic Sandstone Aquifer, UK. Ground Water 40(1):44–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Taylor RG, Cronin AA, Trowsdale SA, Baines OP, Barrett MH, Lerner DNL (2003) Vertical groundwater flow in Permo-Triassic sediments underlying two cities in the Trent River Basin (UK). J Hydrol 284:92–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taylor RG, Cronin AA, Pedley S, Barker J, Atkinson T (2004) The implications of groundwater velocity variations on microbial transport and wellhead protection—review of field evidence. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 49:17–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Taylor RG, Cronin AA, Lerner DN, Tellam JH, Bottrell SH, Rueedi J, Barrett MH (2006) Hydrochemical evidence of the depth of penetration of anthropogenic recharge in sandstone aquifers underlying two mature cities in the UK. Appl Geochem (in press)Google Scholar
  38. Tellam JH (1994) The groundwater chemistry of the Lower Mersey Basin Permo-Triassic Sandstone Aquifer system, UK: 1980 and pre-industrialisation-urbanisation. J Hydrol 161:287–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tellam JH, Lloyd JW (1986) Problems in the recognition of seawater intrusion by chemical means: an example of apparent chemical equivalence. Q J Eng Geol 19:389–398Google Scholar
  40. Tellam JH, Thomas A (2002) Wellwater quality and pollutant source distributions in an urban aquifer. In: Howard KWF, Israfilov RG (eds) Current problems of hydrogeology in urban areas, urban agglomerates and Industrial centres. Kluwer Academic publishers. 139–158Google Scholar
  41. Wachniew P, Rozanski K (1997) Carbon budget of a mid-latitude, groundwater-controlled lake: Isotopic evidence for the importance of dissolved inorganic carbon recycling. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 61:2453–2465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yang Y, Lerner DN, Barrett MH, Tellam JH (1999) Quantification of groundwater recharge in the city of Nottingham, UK. Environ Geol 38:183–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Rueedi
    • 1
  • A. A. Cronin
    • 1
  • R. G. Taylor
    • 2
  • B. L. Morris
    • 3
  1. 1.Robens Centre for Public and Environmental Health, Building AWUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.British Geological SurveyWallingfordUK

Personalised recommendations