Geochemical evidence for groundwater behavior in an unconfined aquifer, south Florida

Jayson B. Meyers, Peter K. Swart, Janet L. Meyers'

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30 Scopus citations


Five well sites have been investigated along an east-west transect across the surfical aquifer system (SAS) of south Florida. Differences between rainfall during wet seasons (June-October) and evaporation during dry seasons (November-May) give surface waters of this region isotopically light (δ18O -22‰ and δD -7.6‰) and heavy (δ18O +4.2‰) compositions, respectively. Surface waters and shallow groundwaters are enriched in 18O and D to the west, which is consistent with westward decrease in equal excess of rainfall. In the shallow portion of the SAS (less than 20 m, Biscayne sub-aquifer) heterogeneous stable isotopic compositions occur over short spans of time (less than 90 days), reflecting seasonal changes in the isotopic composition of recharge and rapid flushing. Homogeneous stable isotopic compositions occur below the Biscayne sub-aquifer, marking the zone of delayed circulation. Surface evaporation calculated from a stable isotope evaporation model agrees with previously published estimates of 75-95% by physical evaporation measurements and water budget calculations. This model contains many parameters that are assumed to be mean values, but short-term variability in some of these parameters may make this model unsuitable for the application of yearly mean values. For the Everglades, changes in the isotopic composition of atmospheric vapor during the dry season may cause the model to yield anomalous results when annual mean values are used. Chloride-enriched waters (more than 280 mg 1-1) form a plume emanating from the bottom central portion of the transect. Elevated chloride concentration and light stable isotopic composition (δ18O ≈ -2‰, δD ≈ -8‰) suggest this plume is probably caused not by salinity of residual seawater in the aquifer, but by leakage from the minor artesian water-bearing zone of the Floridan aquifer system. Stable isotope values from Floridan aquifer groundwater plot close to the meteoric water line, in the same area as Everglades rainfall. These Floridan waters are interpreted to have originated in central Florida some 25 000-132 000 years ago, indicating that meteoric conditions in the Florida peninsula have changed little since late Pleistocene time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-272
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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