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Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center - Mississippi
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Nutrient Transport through Ground/Surface Water Exchange
The shallow alluvial aquifer in the rich agricultural area of the Big Sunflower River Basin is assumed to be invulnerable to anthropogenic activities, although many of the streams and ditches in the basin are incised to below the clay layer and into the more permeable material; this, coupled with the declining water levels, suggests a possible route of contamination from surface water to the alluvial aquifer through the streambed of the streams and ditches of the area. Barlow and Coupe (2009) showed that during higher flows, the stream changes from a gaining stream (ground-water flow into the stream) to a losing stream (surface-water flow into the streambed sediments and potentially into the shallow alluvial aquifer). Therefore, due to the potential connectivity between the stream and alluvial aquifer, it is important to fully understand this interaction in order to understand transport processes within the Big Sunflower River Basin and how those processes affect nutrient concentrations within the stream and alluvial aquifer. A 3-year study will be conducted to analyze the role of ground-and surface-water interaction on the transport of nutrients. The objective of this work is to answer two questions: (1) what is the total flux (movement of water) between streams in the Big Sunflower River Basin and the alluvial aquifer, and (2) how does this affect water quality in the basin? This study will employ in-stream and near-stream piezometers near stream gages, and subsequent continuous data collection. These piezometers will serve as housing for water level and temperature transducers, as well as providing a means to measure and record periodic water-levels in order to check the continuous data from the logger. A 2-dimensional model of cross sections of the streams will be used in order to constrain estimates of both ground-water/surface-water exchange and the lateral extent of surface-water recharge to the alluvial aquifer.
USGS employees collecting samples from a river.
USGS employees with drilling rig.
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