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PUBLICATIONS—Scientific Investigations Report


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National Park Service

Water Quality and Ground-Water/Surface-Water Interactions along the John River near Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, 2002-2003

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5229 —ONLINE ONLY

By Edward H. Moran and Timothy P. Brabets


U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; 2005


The full report is available in pdf.  Link to the pdf.

The headwaters of the John River are located near the village of Anaktuvuk Pass in the central Brooks Range of interior Alaska. With the recent construction of a water-supply system and a wastewater-treatment plant, most homes in Anaktuvuk Pass now have modern water and wastewater systems. The effluent from the treatment plant discharges into a settling pond near a tributary of the John River. The headwaters of the John River are adjacent to Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and the John River is a designated Wild River. Due to the concern about possible water-quality effects from the wastewater effluent, the hydrology of the John River near Anaktuvuk Pass was studied from 2002 through 2003.


Three streams form the John River at Anaktuvuk Pass: Contact Creek, Giant Creek, and the John River Tributary. These streams drain areas of 90.3 km2, 120 km2, and 4.6 km2, respectively. Water-quality data collected from these streams from 2002–03 indicate that the waters are a calcium-bicarbonate type and that Giant Creek adds a sulfate component to the John River. The highest concentrations of bicarbonate, calcium, sodium, sulfate, and nitrate were found at the John River Tributary below the wastewater-treatment lagoon. These concentrations have little effect on the water quality of the John River because the flow of the John River Tributary is only about 2 percent of the John River flow.


To better understand the ground-water/surface-water interactions of the upper John River, a numerical groundwater-flow model of the headwater area of the John River was constructed. Processes that occur during spring break-up, such as thawing of the active layer and the frost table and the resulting changes of storage capacity of the aquifer, were difficult to measure and simulate. Application and accuracy of the model is limited by the lack of specific hydrogeologic data both spatially and temporally. However, during the mid-winter and open-water periods, the model provided acceptable results and was coupled with a particle-movement model to simulate the movement and possible extent of conservative particles from the wastewater-treatment-plant lagoon.





Purpose and Scope

Previous Studies

Methods of Data Collection and Analysis


Hydrogeologic Setting of Anaktuvuk Pass

Water Quality of the Headwaters and Tributaries of the John River near Anaktuvuk Pass

Specific Conductance


Water Temperature

Dissolved Oxygen

Major Ions and Dissolved Solids

Nutrients and Dissolved Organic Carbon

Ground-Water/Surface-Water Interactions along the headwaters of the John River

Simulation of the Hydrologic System

Model Specifications

Calibration of the Model

Boundary and Initial Conditions

Aquifer Recharge

Hydraulic Properties

Results of the Simulations

Assessments of Results

Comparison of Observed and Simulated Heads and Surface-Water Discharge

Variation and Uncertainty of Hydraulic Properties

Sensitivity Analysis and Model Limitations

Simulation of Particle Movement

Summary and Conclusions



The text and graphics are presented here in pdf format (print quality):

The full report is 1.7 MB

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