Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2010AK89B

Hydrogeology and Geochemistry of the Anchorage Aquifer System: Research and Teaching Applications

Institute: Alaska
Year Established: 2010 Start Date: 2010-03-01 End Date: 2011-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $21,834 Total Non-Federal Funds: $43,780

Principal Investigators: LeeAnn Munk, Jens Munk, Bryce Willems

Abstract: Water supply and water quality are critical environmental issues that face the Anchorage region as well as the State of Alaska. The few existing studies of groundwater quality in the Anchorage area indicate that there are contaminants such as arsenic exceeding drinking water standards. However, even less is known about the physical characteristics of the groundwater environment. The focus of this project is to install a well field in the vicinity of the UAA campus for purposes of student and faculty research investigations of both aquifer characteristics and groundwater quality. A multidisciplinary approach including geochemistry, hydrostratigraphy, and geophysics will be applied to understand the groundwater environment and changes that occur as a function of annual climate cycles. The well field will consist of three wells (one pumping and two monitoring). It will be installed near the Conoco Phillips Integrated Science building where it can easily be accessed and in the vicinity of where we have some understanding of the aquifer material based on exiting bore holes. The geologic materials recovered during drilling will be characterized by their stratigraphy and grain size distribution. Aquifer tests will be conducted and the resulting time-drawdown data will be analyzed to determine characteristics such as hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity, and storativity. Geophysical methods including electrical resistivity will be used to map out the groundwater table. The physical data gathered from the bore holes will be used to groundtruth the interpretation of the resistivity data. Groundwater sampling will be conducting at least seasonally in order to understand changes in basic water quality parameters including pH, T, conductivity, alkalinity and major cation and anion composition. Additionally, trace element concentrations as well as δ18O and δD will be determined to aid in geochemical modeling of the groundwater and the overall seasonal variations in composition and source. This project will add infrastructure for both teaching and research in geological sciences and engineering at UAA and will be made available to other interested parties in the Anchorage community. This project will also expand on existing studies of surface-groundwater interactions by UAA researchers.