Impact of gravel pits on water quality in alluvial aquifers

Karlović, Igor; Marković, Tamara; Smith, Andrew C.; Maldini, Krešimir. 2023 Impact of gravel pits on water quality in alluvial aquifers. Hydrology, 10 (4), 99.

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Gravel pits are considered potentially hazardous in terms of groundwater quality protection as they represent an open part of the aquifer system, increasing the aquifer’s vulnerability to contamination from the surface. The aim of this research was to determine the biogeochemical processes in gravel pits that have a positive effect on the groundwater quality in the alluvial aquifer in NW Croatia. The aquifer is situated below developed agricultural land, with high groundwater nitrate concentrations having been recorded over the last decades. The differences between two gravel pits and the surrounding groundwater were studied using in situ, hydrochemical, and isotopic parameters (δ15N-NO3 and δ18O-NO3), together with existing microbial data. The analyses of nitrogen species indicated that nitrate attenuation processes take place in gravel pits. Bacterial denitrification and nitrate uptake by algae were responsible for significant decreases in nitrate concentration. These processes were more effective in the inactive gravel pit, which has a longer water residence time and during warm periods, when microbial biomass, abundance, and activity were high. The seasonally variable microbial activity also affected trace metals, removing them from groundwater, possibly through the biosorption of metal ions. The presented research shows that the observed biogeochemical processes are associated with seasonal changes that affect the types and number of microbial communities and the chemical composition of water, resulting in gravel pits being groundwater remediation points.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2306-5338
Date made live: 08 Jun 2023 12:29 +0 (UTC)

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