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Spatial Variability of Groundwater Recharge and its Effect on Shallow Groundwater Quality in Southern New Jersey

By Bernard T. Nolan, Arthur L. Baehr, and Leon J. Kauffman

[Vadose Zone Journal, vol.2, issue 4, November 2003, p. 677-691]

Point estimates of groundwater recharge at 48 sediment-coring locations vary substantially (-18.5-1840 cm yr-1) in a 930-km2 area of southern New Jersey. Darcian estimates of steady, long-term recharge made at depth in the unsaturated zone were estimated using pedotransfer functions of soil texture and interpolated (mapped) with nonparametric methods to assess aquifer vulnerability in the area. The probability of exceeding the median recharge (29.1 cm yr-1) is low in the southwestern and northeastern portions of the study area and high in the eastern and southeastern portions. Estimated recharge is inversely related to measured percentage clay and positively related to the percentage of well-drained soils near wells. Spatial patterns of recharge estimates, exceedance probabilities, and clay content indicate that sediment texture controls recharge in the study area. Relations with land elevation and a topographic wetness index were statistically insignificant. Nitrate concentration and atrazine (6-chloro-N2-ethyl-N4-isopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine) percentage detection in samples of shallow groundwater (typically <10 m) are higher for low recharge sites (<=29.1 cm yr-1) than for high recharge sites (>29.1 cm yr-1) in agricultural and urban areas. Differences between high and low recharge sites in these areas are highly significant for NO3 concentration, but not for atrazine concentration.

Table of Contents

Materials and methods
  Description of Study Area
  Point Recharge Estimates
  Mapping and Spatial Analysis Techniques
  Water Quality Relations

Results and discussion
  Uncertainty of Recharge Estimates
  Application of Geostatistical Techniques
  Potential Causes of Recharge Variability
  Relation of Recharge to Shallow Groundwater Quality
  Verification of Recharge Map




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