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USGS Science Presented at AGU in Boston
Released: 5/29/2001

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Carolyn Bell 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4463

Note to editors: Interviews with the scientists during the American Geophysical Union conference can be arranged by contacting the AGU newsroom in Boston (617) 954-3138.

Small Differences in Grain Size Can Have Big Impact on Water Quality: Although the geology and hydrology of an area may appear to be quite similar on a regional scale, differences such as the distribution of fine to coarse sediments in the subsurface can have a significant impact on how chemicals and pesticides move into shallow ground water and surface water. USGS scientist Judith Denver will discuss how variations in physiography and differences in grain textures of geologic units define seven distinct hydrogeologic subregions in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain and how this information can explain differences in water chemistry across the Coastal Plain. "Hydrogeologic Factors Affecting the Transport of Nutrients and Pesticides to Shallow Ground Water and Small Streams in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, USA" in Session B01, is scheduled for 8:30 am on Tuesday, May 29, Hynes Convention Center Room 302.

Nitrate Concentrations Expected to Increase if Land Use Remains Unchanged: Residents in southern New Jersey rely more and more on the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system to provide water for everyday use. As the population grows, concern has increased about the future of this aquifer system and the quality of its water. USGS scientist Leon Kauffman will describe how past and present land use may have affected the quality of water pumped from this aquifer system, and that if land use remains the same, then nitrate concentrations in many of the public-supply wells will continue to increase over the next 50 years. "Use of an Advective Transport Model to Relate Land Use to the Quality of Water in Public-Supply Wells, New Jersey Coastal Plain" in Session B04, is scheduled for 10:30 am on Wednesday, May 30, Hynes Convention Center Room 313.

Karst Environment Linked to Nitrate Concentrations in Ground Water: Karst features such as gapping sinkholes characterize the landscape of northern Florida. In Suwannee and Lafayette Counties, nitrate contamination in ground water is widespread. USGS scientist Brian Katz will present findings that indicate nitrates from agricultural activities move easily down into the Upper Floridan aquifer because highly permeable sands cover the karst limestone forming the aquifer and because recharge rates to the aquifer are quite high. "A Multi-Trace Approach to Characterize Sources and Transport of Nitrate in Groundwater in Mantled Karst, Northern Florida" in Session B-03, is scheduled for 9:30 am on Tuesday, May 29, Hynes Convention Center Room 302.

Distribution and Importance of Nutrient Sources in the Chesapeake Bay: The over abundance of nutrients is threatening the quality of water in Chesapeake Bay and in streams contributing water to the Bay. USGS scientist John Brakebill will show how models, combined with land-use and water-quality data, produce estimates about the distribution and relative importance of nutrient sources within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These estimates are critically important to resource managers who are formulating nutrient-reduction strategies designed to improve water-quality conditions in Chesapeake Bay. "Land-Use Data Used to Relate Nutrient Sources to Water Quality in Chesapeake Bay Watershed" in Session B-04, is scheduled for 8:55 am on Wednesday, May 30, Hynes Convention Center Room 313.

A New Approach for Predicting Contaminant Transport in Ground Water: Scientists may be better able to estimate the future distribution of contaminants in ground water thanks to a model that combines water-quality with three dimensional ground-water flow data. USGS scientist Paul Stackelberg will show how nitrate concentrations in water samples from 78 wells in Glassboro, New Jersey, were used to predict the concentration of nitrate in ground-water recharge to the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system. This study defines those areas where nitrate concentrations are expected to be the greatest in the future and indicates that if no changes are made in current nitrogen use, land use, or ground-water withdrawals, nitrate concentrations are likely to increase over the next 50 years and may exceed drinking water standards in many areas that use the aquifer system for public water supplies. "An Integrated Modeling Approach for Use in Regional Ground-Water Quality Assessments" in Session H31E, is scheduled for 9:55 am on Wednesday, May 30, Hynes Convention Center Room 306.

Can Forested Watersheds "Shed" Light on the Effects of Air Pollution?: Since the mid 1960s, the USGS has continuously monitored streamflow and has seasonally monitored water-quality conditions in medium-size, forested watersheds throughout the U.S. Because these sites have well-developed zones of natural vegetation along their streambanks, they seem ideally suited for evaluating the effects of air pollution, urban development, and agriculture on stream water quality. USGS scientist Peter Murdoch will describe the results of increased water-quality sampling at five of these watersheds in the eastern U.S., which indicate that these watersheds are useful indicators of landscape response to changing emission standards. "Tracking the Effects of Acidic Deposition in Medium-Scale Forested Watersheds of the Eastern US" in Session H31A (poster), is scheduled for 8:30 am on Wednesday, May 30, Hynes Convention Center Hall C.

Factors Related to Population Growth Affect Aquatic Biological Communities: A study of streams in northern New Jersey has confirmed what many ecologists have feared - that aquatic biological communities in streams are vulnerable to changes in the amount of forest cover, stream base flows, and wetland systems. Factors related to a growing human population, such as varied streamflow, increased phosphorus concentrations, and increased impervious (paved) surfaces, have adversely affected aquatic communities. USGS scientist Mark Ayers will discuss the development of a watershed modeling approach that defined streamflow characteristics associated with over 800 biological monitoring sites in New Jersey. Scientists hope to use results to provide key information about major factors contributing to the current state of health in New Jersey’s aquatic biological communities. The State plans to incorporate the watershed model as part of its local and regional land-use planning efforts. "Modeling Approach to Estimate Daily Streamflow Characteristics at Monitoring Sites in New Jersey" in Session H52D, is scheduled for 4:05 pm on Friday, June 1, Hynes Convention Center Room 306.

Mercury Behaves the Same in Different Landscapes: Generally, less than 20% of the atmospheric mercury that is deposited into a watershed is exported out of the watershed through streamflow. USGS scientist Jamie Shanley will present findings from a recent study about the behavior of mercury in a variety of landscape settings in northern New England indicating that regardless of the land use or size of the watershed, mercury concentrations appear to be positively correlated with stream discharge. "Commonalities in Mercury Behavior in Contrasting Northeastern USA Landscapes" in Session B-09, is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Thursday, May 31, Hynes Convention Center Room 311.

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