Assessment of Groundwater Susceptibility to Non-Point Source Contaminants Using Three-Dimensional Transient Indexes

Abstract

Groundwater susceptibility to non-point source contamination is typically quantified by stable indexes, while groundwater quality evolution (or deterioration globally) can be a long-term process that may last for decades and exhibit strong temporal variations. This study proposes a three-dimensional (3-d), transient index map built upon physical models to characterize the complete temporal evolution of deep aquifer susceptibility. For illustration purposes, the previous travel time probability density (BTTPD) approach is extended to assess the 3-d deep groundwater susceptibility to non-point source contamination within a sequence stratigraphic framework observed in the Kings River fluvial fan (KRFF) aquifer. The BTTPD, which represents complete age distributions underlying a single groundwater sample in a regional-scale aquifer, is used as a quantitative, transient measure of aquifer susceptibility. The resultant 3-d imaging of susceptibility using the simulated BTTPDs in KRFF reveals the strong influence of regional-scale heterogeneity on susceptibility. The regional-scale incised-valley fill deposits increase the susceptibility of aquifers by enhancing rapid downward solute movement and displaying relatively narrow and young age distributions. In contrast, the regional-scale sequence-boundary paleosols within the open-fan deposits protect deep aquifers by slowing downward solute movement and displaying a relatively broad and old age distribution. Further comparison of the simulated susceptibility index maps to known contaminant distributions shows that these maps are generally consistent with the high concentration and quick evolution of 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) in groundwater around the incised-valley fill since the 1970s'. This application demonstrates that the BTTPDs can be used as quantitative and transient measures of deep aquifer susceptibility to non-point source contamination.

Description
Keywords
groundwater susceptibility, non-point source, backward travel time probability density, AQUIFER VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT, TRAVEL-TIME PROBABILITIES, STATISTICAL-METHODS, DRASTIC MODEL, POROUS-MEDIA, DIFFUSION-PROCESSES, SEAWATER INTRUSION, RELEASE TIME, ALLUVIAL-FAN, GIS, Environmental Sciences, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Citation
Zhang, Y., Weissmann, G., Fogg, G., Lu, B., Sun, H., & Zheng, C. (2018). Assessment of Groundwater Susceptibility to Non-Point Source Contaminants Using Three-Dimensional Transient Indexes. In International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Vol. 15, Issue 6, p. 1177). MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15061177