Aquifer community structure in dependence of lithostratigraphy in groundwater reservoirs
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Groundwater microbiology with respect to different host rocks offers new possibilities to describe and map the habitat harboring approximately half of Earths’ biomass. The Thuringian Basin (Germany) contains formations of the Permian (Zechstein) and Triassic (Muschelkalk and Buntsandstein) with outcrops and deeper regions at the border and central part. Hydro(geo)chemistry and bacterial community structure of 11 natural springs and 20 groundwater wells were analyzed to define typical patterns for each formation. Widespread were Gammaproteobacteria, while Bacilli were present in all wells. Halotolerant and halophilic taxa were present in Zechstein. The occurrence of specific taxa allowed a clear separation of communities from all three lithostratigraphic groups. These specific taxa could be used to follow fluid movement, e.g., from the underlying Zechstein or from nearby saline reservoirs into Buntsandstein aquifers. Thus, we developed a new tool to identify the lithostratigraphic origin of sources in mixed waters. This was verified with entry of surface water, as species not present in the underground Zechstein environments were isolated from the water samples. Thus, our tool shows a higher resolution as compared to hydrochemistry, which is prone to undergo fast dilution if water mixes with other aquifers. Furthermore, the bacteria well adapted to their respective environment showed geographic clustering allowing to differentiate regional aquifers.
KeywordsMuschelkalk Buntsandstein Zechstein Lithostratigraphy Thuringian basin Groundwater Bacterial communities
The authors thank the projects INFLUINS funded by BMBF and RTG 1257 funded by DFG under the umbrella of the Graduate School JSMC. We are indebted to the well owners, graduation works, and health resorts for their kind support. The TLUG Weimar, especially Jörn Geletneky, LAGB of Saxony-Anhalt, and Jörn Engelhardt are thanked for their assistance.
Compliance with ethical standards
There are no potential conflicts of interest, research is not involving human participants or animals, and all authors agree to the submission by giving their informed consent.
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