There’s Something in the Water: An Analysis of of the Chemical Composition of the Sagamore, Killbuck Creek, and Upper Floridan Aquifer

April 10, 2021   /  

Name: S. R. Troen
Major: Environmental Geoscience
Advisor: Dr. Shelley Judge

Aquifers are commonly used as sources of fresh water but are very susceptible to contamination. In order to track contamination, the chemical composition of an aquifer should be known. This research aims to supply background chemical compositions of three distinct aquifers, the Upper Floridan aquifer, the Sagamore aquifer, and the Killbuck Creek aquifer. The chemicals considered for this research are magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), and sulfate ions (SO4) which are compared against calcium (Ca). This research has found trends within the individual aquifers and distinctions when compared against each other. The Upper Floridan aquifer is located on the southeastern coast of the United States and is part of the larger Floridan aquifer system. It is uniquely large and has a combined structure of confined and unconfined, leading to varied levels for risk of contamination. Within this aquifer, the chemicals, Mg, Na, and SO4, show a negative trend when compared with Ca. The Sagamore aquifer is located on the southeast coast of Massachusetts. Overall, chemical compositions of this aquifer are in higher concentrations near and in kettle ponds than in areas that are farther away from these features and has an overall positive trend. The Killbuck Creek aquifer is a buried valley aquifer located in northeast Ohio. This aquifer has no connections with any other groundwater, although it has connections with some surface water streams and rivers. Within this aquifer, the chemicals, Mg, Na, and SO4, show a positive linear trend when compared with Ca. When aquifer chemicals are compiled together, the kettle ponds found within the Sagamore aquifer contain chemical concentrations that are distinctly grouped and separate from the concentrations found in other aquifers. The Upper Floridan aquifer has concentrations that are more random than the Killbuck Creek aquifer, allowing it to have concentrations that are both greater and less than those found within the Upper Floridan aquifer.

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S. R. will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

14 thoughts on “There’s Something in the Water: An Analysis of of the Chemical Composition of the Sagamore, Killbuck Creek, and Upper Floridan Aquifer”

  1. Congratulations, Shosh, on the completion of your I.S. — which is that driver’s license to graduation in a few short weeks. It is awesome to see this I.S. journey come to a close with you presenting at Symposium. Good luck with your presentation in the afternoon on 4/16. I wish you the best as you start the next chapter in your life after Woo.

    1. Hi Shosh — Looks like you have quite a bit of traffic to your virtual poster. Hope you are having fun presenting your research.

  2. I didn’t know much about aquifers and their chemical composition before but this has helped me to learn a little bit more! Thanks for sharing Shosh, and Congratulations!

    1. I’m so glad you were able to learn! If you have general questions about aquifers and their chemical compositions I’d be happy to answer those.

  3. Hi Shosh! I’m so glad that I got to have an in-depth conversation with you about your work. I noticed that, of all your field sites, you focused on the Sagamore aquifer for your symposium poster – why? What about that particular site excites you the most?

    1. Hi Dr. Pollock,

      I chose to focus on the Sagamore aquifer because I was able to have field work in that location while I was completing my thesis. Additionally, it is currently experiencing restoration which makes it an interesting case study.

  4. Shosh, Did you consider aquifer flow direction and it’s impact on your trace element analysis?

    1. I did not consider flow direction as this study is looking at what chemical ratios are likely to be found within each aquifer. However, I could see flow direction being included in a future study.

  5. Cool study, Shosh! Thanks for sharing it. I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about the sensor being developed to detect PFAS and its relationship to the chemicals you looked at. Do you think site contamination within the Sagamore Aquifer has any impact on the trends you observed? Perhaps co-contaminants or current remediation efforts are affecting the chemical trends.

    1. Thanks Alexis!

      The sensor being created is being done by Dr. Edmiston in the chemistry department. While the sensor’s main focus will be to sense contamination, it is necessary for the sensor to be tested against non-harmful chemicals to make sure that they will not change how the sensor detects contamination . The chemicals are meant to be examples of real world ratios so that the sensor can be tested against them.

      1. To answer your other questions:

        The contamination of the Sagamore could have had effects on the chemicals we see. To give a definitive answer I would suggest looking at an aquifer that has not been restored and keep track of chemical ratios as it is restored. With a study like this, restoration practices would be able to be compared to changes in chemical compositions and ratios of aquifers.

  6. Well done M’am!

    As one who knew you Back in the Day, I am so impressed and inspired to see how far you have progressed with this rigorous effort.

    Inquiring minds do want to know about if you think there are general trends than can be detected among ‘all’ aquifers, and what that might say for creating data of public policy use (as Congressional Debaters might put it) be it nationally or locally. – if anything at all.

    Were these sites picked with any particular generalizations in mind or not so much?

    1. Thank you Paul!

      I am not sure if every aquifer will have a trend, although if I had to make a guess I would say that each will have a trend, albeit not a strong one.

      A public database containing all of the chemical concentrations and ratios would be a very helpful tool for many researchers, however, it would take a lot of time and resources. For example, the cumulation of everything I have here took a year, and there are only three aquifers. Additionally, many papers were accessible to me because the College of Wooster has access to the journals.

      I picked each location to represent a different type of aquifer. The Upper Floridan aquifer was chosen for it’s size. The Killbuck Creek aquifer was chosen due to it’s type as a buried valley aquifer, a high yield aquifer. The Sagamore aquifer was chosen due it’s composition of sand and it’s history of contamination and restoration.

      I hope this answered all your questions, feel free to ask any followup questions.

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