Muddy waters: temporal variation in sediment discharging from a karst spring
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Karst aquifers are capable of transporting and discharging large quantities of suspended sediment, which can have an important impact on water quality. Here we present the results of intensive monitoring of sediment discharging from a karst spring in response to two storm events, one following a wet season and the other following a dry season; we describe temporal changes in total suspended solids (TSS), mineralogy, and particle size distribution. Peak concentrations of suspended sediment coincided with changes in aqueous chemistry indicating arrival of surface water, suggesting that much of the discharging sediment had an allochthonous origin. Concentrations of suspended sediment peaked 14–16 h after rainfall, and the bulk of the sediment (approximately 1 metric ton in response to each storm) discharged within 24 h after rainfall. Filtered material included brightly colored fibers and organic matter. Suspended sediments consisted of dolomite, calcite, quartz, and clay. Proportions of each mineral constituent changed as the aquifer response to the storm progressed, indicating varying input from different sediment sources. The hydraulic response of the aquifer to precipitation was well described by changes in parameters obtained from the particle size distribution function, and corresponded to changes seen in TSS and mineralogy. Differences between storms in the quantity and mineralogy of sediment transported suggest that seasonal effects on surface sediment supply may be important. The quantity of sediment discharging and its potential to sorb and transport contaminants indicates that a mobile solid phase should be included in contaminant monitoring and contaminant transport models of karst. Temporal changes in sediment quantity and characteristics and differences between responses to the two storms, however, demonstrate that the process is not easily generalized.
Karst, Sediment Transport, Spring, Water Quality, Size Distribution, Pollution Hydrology
Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 214, no. 1-4 (1999).
Mahler, Barbara J. and Lynch, F. L., "Muddy waters: temporal variation in sediment discharging from a karst spring" (1999). KIP Articles. 3573.