New Jersey Water Science Center

Pore-Water Quality in the Clay-Silt Confining Units of the Lower Miocene Kirkwood Formation and Hypothetical Effects on Water Quality in the Atlantic City 800-Foot Sand, Northeastern Cape May County, New Jersey, 2001

Prepared in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

By Zoltan Szabo, Elizabeth A. Keller, and Rose M. Defawe

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5134

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Abstract

Pore water was extracted from clay-silt core samples collected from a borehole at Ocean View, west of Sea Isle City, in northeastern Cape May County, New Jersey. The borehole intersects the lower Miocene Kirkwood Formation, which includes a thick sand and gravel unit between two clay-silt units. The sand and gravel unit forms a major confined aquifer in the region, known as the Atlantic City 800-foot sand, the major source of potable water along the Atlantic Coast of southern New Jersey. The pore water from the core is of interest because the borehole intersects the aquifer in an area where the ground water is sodium-rich and sulfidic. Locally in the aquifer in central and southern Cape May County, sodium concentrations are near the New Jersey secondary drinking-water standard of 50 mg/L (milligrams per liter), and typically are greater than 30 mg/L, but chloride and sulfate do not approach their respective secondary drinking-water standards except in southernmost Cape May County. Pore waters from the confining units are suspected to be a source of sodium, sulfur, and chloride to the aquifer. Constituent concentrations in filtered pore-water samples were determined using the inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry analytical technique to facilitate the determination of low-level concentrations of many trace constituents.

Calcium-sodium-sulfate-bicarbonate, calcium-chloride-sulfate, calcium-sulfate, and sodium-sulfate-chloride-bicarbonate type waters characterize samples from the deepest part of the confining unit directly overlying the aquifer (termed the “lower” confining unit). A sodium-chloride-sulfate type water is dominant in the composite confining unit below the aquifer. Sodium, chloride, and sulfate became increasingly dominant with depth. Pore water from the deepest sample recovered (1,390 ft (feet) below land surface) was brackish, with concentrations of sodium, chloride, and sulfate of 5,930, 8,400, and 5,070 mg/L, respectively. Pore-water samples from 900 ft or less below land surface, although mineralized, were fresh, not brackish. Sodium concentrations ranged from 51.3 to 513 mg/L, with the maximum concentration found at 882 ft below land surface in the composite confining unit below the aquifer. Chloride concentrations ranged from 46.4 to 757 mg/L, with the maximum concentration found at 596 ft below land surface in the “lower” confining unit, and were higher than those in pore water from the same units at Atlantic City, N.J. Concentrations of chloride in the composite confining unit below the aquifer were consistently greater than 250 mg/L, indicating that the confining unit can be a source of chloride at depth. Of the major anions, sulfate was the constituent whose concentration varied most, ranging from 42 to 799 mg/L. The maximum concentration was found at 406 ft below land surface, in the upper part of the confining unit overlying the aquifer and the Rio Grande water-bearing zone (termed the “upper” confining unit). Sulfide was not detected in any pore-water sample despite the presence of abundant quantities of sulfate and sulfide in the aquifer. The absence of sulfide in the pore waters is consistent with the hypothesis that sulfate is reduced in the aquifer. The presence of arsenic, at concentrations ranging from 0.0062 to 0.0374 mg/L, is consistent with the absence of sulfide and the possible presence of iron in the pore water.


Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Previous Work

Hydrogeologic Setting

Hydrogeology

Geology of the Eocene to Miocene Strata at Ocean View, New Jersey

Clay-Silts of the Upper Eocene Strata

Clay-Silts of the Lower Miocene Strata

Methods of Study

Initial Collection of Sediment

Extraction of Confining-Unit Pore-Water Samples

Quality Assurance

Analysis of Pore Water

Composition of Pore Water

Hypothetical Movement of Constituents in Pore Water from Confining Units to the Atlantic City 800-Foot Sand

Sodium and Chloride

Sulfate, Sulfide, Iron, Arsenic, and Strontium

Summary and Conclusions

Acknowledgments

References Cited


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