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Publications—Open-File Report 98–630

An Overview of the Factors Involved in Evaluating the Geochemical Effects of Highway Runoff on the Environment

By Owen P. Bricker

U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 98–630

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration. A Contribution to the National Highway Runoff Data and Methodology Synthesis.


This report is available in Portable Document Format (PDF):

OFR 98–630 (202 KB)  – 38 pages


Materials washed by rain and snowmelt from highways into adjacent surface waters, ground waters, and ecosystems can pollute water and affect biota. To understand the chemical behavior of any one of these materials and its effects on the environment requires knowledge of the chemistry of the material and how it interacts with other components in the local geochemical system. An integrated watershed approach, therefore, would be the most effective method to assess the effects of highway runoff on local receiving waters. Analysis of one or a few specific contaminants will provide limited and incomplete information and may be misleading in terms of environmental effects. This report addresses the background geochemistry required to model highway runoff and to make realistic assessments of the potential effects of runoff on the environment.




Background of Geochemical Processes

Dissolution of Substances

Precipitation of Substances

Activity and Concentration of Ions in Solution

Ion Exchange

Adsorption and Desorption

Oxidation and Reduction (Redox)


Sample Collection

Sample Analysis

Geochemical Modeling

Speciation Models

Mass-Transfer Models

Mass-Balance Models

Geochemical Mass-Transport Models




This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

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Suggested Citation:
Bricker, O.P., 1999, An overview of the factors involved in evaluating the geochemical effects of highway runoff on the environment: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 98-630, 28 p.

For additional information write to:

USGS Massachusetts–Rhode Island Water Science Center
10 Bearfoot Road
Northborough, MA 01532

or visit our Web site at:

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last modified: Wednesday, 07-Dec-2016 16:49:43 EST
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