Mobile sediment in an urbanizing karst aquifer: implications for contaminant transport


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Publication Date

January 1999


Here we investigate geochemical characteristics of sediment in different compartments of a karst aquifer and demonstrate that mobile sediments in a karst aquifer can exhibit a wide range of properties affecting their contaminant transport potential. Sediment samples were collected from surface streams, sinkholes, caves, wells, and springs of a karst aquifer (the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer, Central Texas) and their mineralogy, grain-size distribution, organic carbon content, and specific surface area analyzed. Statistical analysis of the sediments separated the sampling sites into three distinct groups: (1) streambeds, sinkholes, and small springs; (2) wells; and (3) caves. Sediments from the primary discharge spring were a mix of these three groups. High organic carbon content and high specific surface area gives some sediments an increased potential to transport contaminants; the volume of these sediments is likely to increase with continued urbanization of the watershed.


Karst, Sediment, Contaminant Transport

Document Type



Environmental Geology, Vol. 39, no. 1 (1999).