Karst groundwater vulnerability determined by modeled age and residence time tracers

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



Karst aquifers are a vital groundwater resource globally, but features such as rapid recharge and conduit flow make them highly vulnerable to land-surface contamination. We apply environmental age tracers to the south-central Texas Edwards aquifer, a karst resource in a rapidly urbanizing and drought-prone region, to assess vulnerability to land-surface contamination and risks unique to karst aquifers. We show that vulnerability of Edwards aquifer groundwater follows similar spatial and depth patterns common to porous-media type aquifers, despite complicated karst hydrogeologic features. Shallow and unconfined parts are more vulnerable to land-surface contamination than the deeper and confined parts, although even the oldest groundwater is mixed with some recent recharge. When modeled age-tracer results are coupled with other independent geochemical tracers of water-rock interaction specific to karst settings, they can yield insight into residence time and associated vulnerability.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Karst groundwater vulnerability determined by modeled age and residence time tracers
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/2023GL102853
Volume 50
Issue 18
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center, Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center
Description e2023GL102853, 10 p.
Country United States
State Texas
Other Geospatial Edwards Aquifer
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