Groundwater hydrogeochemical formation and evolution in a karst aquifer system affected by anthropogenic impacts

Abstract

Karst groundwater, an important water source, is often highly influenced by human impacts, causing environmental damage and threats to human health. However, studies on the anthropogenic influences on the hydrogeochemical evolution of karst groundwater are relatively rare. To assess hydrogeochemical formation and evolution, we focused on a typical karst groundwater system (Jinan, China) which is composed of cold groundwater (av. temperature 13–17 °C), springs and geothermal water (av. temperature > 30 °C) and is significantly affected by human activities. The study was performed by means of water samples collecting and analyzing and isotope analysis (2H, 18O and 14C). The statistical analysis and inverse models were also applied to further understand geochemical processes and anthropogenic influences. The 2H, 18O and 14C results indicate that the cold karst groundwater is easily influenced and contaminated by the local environment, while geothermal water is relatively old with a slow rate of recharge. The hydrochemical types of cold karst groundwater are mainly HCO3–Ca and HCO3·SO4–Ca, while geothermal water hydrochemical types are SO4–Ca·Na and SO4–Ca. Groundwater Ca2+, Mg2+, HCO3 and SO42− are mainly controlled by carbonate equilibrium, gypsum dissolution and dedolomitization. Groundwater Na+, K+ and Cl are mainly derived from halite dissolution, and in geothermal water, they are also affected by incongruent dissolution of albite and K-feldspar. Anthropogenic nitrogen produces ammonium resulting in nitrification and reduction in CO2(g) consumption and HCO3 release from carbonate dissolution. Principal component analysis and inverse models also indicate that nitrification and denitrification have significantly affected water–rock interactions. Our study suggests that karst groundwater quality is dominated by water–rock interactions and elucidates the influence of anthropogenic nitrogen. We believe that this paper will be a good reference point to study anthropogenic influences on the groundwater environment and to protect karst groundwater globally.

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Acknowledgements

The research is funded by major scientific and technological tackling projects of Shandong Geology and Mineral Resources (No. 2012-045), Open Fund of Key Laboratory of Groundwater Resources and Environment (Shandong Provincial Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41772257, 41472216). The authors would like to thank the journal editors and the reviewers for their valuable comments, which have improved the paper considerably. The authors would also like to express their gratitude to EditSprings (https://www.editsprings.com/) for the expert linguistic services provided.

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Wu, X., Li, C., Sun, B. et al. Groundwater hydrogeochemical formation and evolution in a karst aquifer system affected by anthropogenic impacts. Environ Geochem Health 42, 2609–2626 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-019-00450-z

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Keywords

  • Water–rock interaction
  • Dedolomitization
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrification
  • Inverse model