To compare relative reaction rates of mineral dissolution in a mineralogically simple groundwater aquifer, we studied the controls on solute concentrations, Sr isotopes, and rare earth element and yttrium (REY) systematics in the Cape Cod aquifer. This aquifer comprises mostly carbonate-free Pleistocene sediments that are about 90% quartz with minor K-feldspar, plagioclase, glauconite, and Fe-oxides. Silica concentrations and pH in the groundwater increase systematically with increasing depth, while Sr isotopic ratios decrease. No clear relationship between 87Sr/86Sr and Sr concentration is observed. At all depths, the 87Sr/86Sr ratio of the groundwater is considerably lower than the Sr isotopic ratio of the bulk sediment or its K-feldspar component, but similar to that of a plagioclase-rich accessory separate obtained from the sediment. The Si-87Sr/86Sr-depth relationships are consistent with dissolution of accessory plagioclase. In addition, solutes such as Sr, Ca, and particularly K show concentration spikes superimposed on their respective general trends. The K-Sr-87Sr/86Sr systematics suggests that accessory glauconite is another major solute source to Cape Cod groundwater. Although the authigenic glauconite in the Cape Cod sediment is rich in Rb, it is low in in-grown radiogenic 87Sr because of its young Pleistocene age. The low 87Sr/86Sr ratios are consistent with equilibration of glauconite with seawater. The impact of glauconite is inferred to vary due to its variable abundance in the sediments. In the Cape Cod groundwater, the variation of REY concentrations with sampling depth resembles that of K and Rb, but differs from that of Ca and Sr. Shale-normalized REY patterns are light REY depleted, show negative Ce anomalies and super-chondritic Y/Ho ratios, but no Eu anomalies. REY input from feldspar, therefore, is insignificant compared to input from a K-Rb-bearing phase, inferred to be glauconite. These results emphasize that interpretation of groundwater chemistry, even in relatively simple aquifers, may be complicated by solute contributions from "exotic" accessory minerals such as glauconite. To detect such peculiarities, groundwater studies should combine the study of elemental concentration and isotopic composition of several solutes that show different geochemical behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology