Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 1376–1387 | Cite as

Hydrologic Dynamics of a Subtropical Estuary Using Geochemical Tracers, Celestún, Yucatan, Mexico

  • Jeremy C. Stalker
  • Rene M. Price
  • Victor H. Rivera-Monroy
  • Jorge Herrera-Silveira
  • Sara Morales
  • Jorge A. Benitez
  • David Alonzo-Parra


Oxygen isotopes and strontium concentrations were used as geochemical tracers to discern the sources of water to Celestún Lagoon, a small subtropical estuary on the western side of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Celestún Lagoon is underlain by karstified limestone with numerous locations where groundwater is observed discharging directly to the lagoon. In this study, samples of groundwater, lagoon surface water, and seawater (SW) were collected in April 2008 and June 2009 and analyzed for salinity, stable isotopes of oxygen, and strontium (Sr2+) concentrations. These geochemical tracers were used in two tertiary mixing models to calculate the relative ratio inputs of fresh groundwater, brackish groundwater, and SW to the lagoon. Two sources of groundwater were found to contribute to the surface water in the lagoon; one fresh and the other brackish with an average salinity of 19 psu. The fresh groundwater had an oxygen isotopic signature (δ18O) and strontium concentration (Sr2+) of δ18O = -3.30‰ and Sr2+ = 0.03 mmol/l, respectively. The brackish groundwater observed in the northern end of the lagoon add a dissimilar oxygen isotopic signature and Sr2+ concentration of δ18O = 3.01‰ and Sr2+ = 0.12 mmol/l, respectively. Local SW had an isotopic oxygen signature and Sr2+ concentration between the two fresher sources (δ18O = 1.40‰, Sr2+ = 0.09 mmol/l). The lagoonwide results of the two tracer mixing models (δ18O and Sr2+) agreed well (within 5 %) and indicated a ratio of brackish groundwater–fresh groundwater– SW of 31 %–26 %–43 % (±5 %) for the Sr2+ model and 35 %–25 %–40 % (± 5 %) for the δ18O model. Brackish groundwater is dominant in the northern portion of the lagoon, while SW dominates the southern portion. Fresh groundwater discharge is a significant contributor of water along the entire eastern boundary of the lagoon where mangrove forests are the dominant vegetation.


Yucatan Groundwater Stable isotopes Submarine groundwater discharge Mexico 



This work was partially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under cooperative Agreement #DBI-06204409 and #DEB-9910514, NSF supplemental funding to RMP and VHRM and analytical support from Dr. Peter Swart at the Stable Isotope laboratory, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami. This is contribution number 648 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy C. Stalker
    • 1
  • Rene M. Price
    • 2
  • Victor H. Rivera-Monroy
    • 3
  • Jorge Herrera-Silveira
    • 4
  • Sara Morales
    • 4
  • Jorge A. Benitez
    • 5
  • David Alonzo-Parra
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Marine SciencesJacksonville UniversityJacksonvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environment, and the Southeastern Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science, School of the Coast and EnvironmentLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  4. 4.Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CINVESTAV-IPN)MeridaMexico
  5. 5.Instituto de Ecología, Pesquerías y Oceanografía del Golfo de MéxicoUniversidad Autónoma de CampecheColonia BuenavistaMexico
  6. 6.Ducks Unlimited of Mexico Research Station (DUMAC) Southeast Regional OfficeMeridaMexico

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