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Authors: Manno, E.* 
Vassallo, M.* 
Varrica, D.* 
Dongarrà, G.* 
Hauser, S.* 
Title: Hydrogeochemistry and water balance in the coastal wetland area of "Biviere di Gela" (Italy)
Issue Date: 2006
DOI: 10.1007/s11270-006-9189-8
Keywords: wetland area
environmental geochemistry
isotope geochemistry
water balance
Subject Classification03. Hydrosphere::03.02. Hydrology::03.02.02. Hydrological processes: interaction, transport, dynamics 
Abstract: In the study area physical and chemical factors control the composition of surface and groundwaters, which in turn determine the water quality of the “Biviere di Gela” lake. These factors combine to create diverse water types which change their compositional character spatially as rainfall infiltrates the soil zone, moves down a topographically defined flow path, and interacts with bedrock minerals. Low-salinity waters, which represent the initial stage of underground circulation, start dissolving calcium carbonate from the local rocks. The progressive increase in salinity, characterized by substantially higher Ca, SO4, Na and Cl concentrations, suggests that dissolution of CaSO4 and NaCl is an important process during water–rock interactions. The “Biviere di Gela” lake is often separated into two units (Lago Grande and Lago Piccolo). “Lago Grande” water is generally of Na-SO4-Cl-type, whereas “Lago Piccolo” water is of Na-Cl-SO4-type. Their total content of dissolved salts varies with season, the amount of rainfall, and inflow of ground and drainage water. Over time, an increasing trend towards greater salinity and also sudden changes in the relative abundances of Cl and SO4 have been recorded for the “Lago Grande.” The isotope composition of the lake water appears to be affected by inflow of ground and surface waters and also by evaporative loss. The nitrate content of waters from the recharge basin is of particular concern because it contributes to lake eutrophication. The trace element contents do not evidence the presence of any significant metal contamination of lake waters, although a future potential hazard of metals bioaccumulation by the aquatic biota must be taken into consideration. Finally, a water balance for the basin shows that a drop in precipitation of about 20% might be critical for lake survival.
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