Delayed impact of new volcanic ejecta on ground water quality

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Journal: Ground Water 2008/06/05
Published: 2008
Authors: Machida, I.;Lee, S. H.
Address: Geological Survey of Japan, AIST, 1-1-1, Higashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8561, Japan.

We observed long-term changes in the concentrations of dissolved ions in ground water caused by leachate from new volcanic ejecta deposited on the ground surface of the volcanic Miyakejima Island, Japan. Water samples were collected from nine wells and two rain collectors over a period of more than 10 years, and samples of runoff water were collected periodically. The samples were analyzed for temperature, pH, alkalinity, Cl(-), and SO(4)(2-); some of the samples were also analyzed for delta(13)C. Because the leachate from the volcanic ejecta contained sulfate, we recorded an increase in SO(4)(2) (-) concentrations in the (unconfined) well water. The increase in SO(4)(2)(-) was initially detected between less than 1.4 and 5.2 years after the eruption, showing peak concentrations from 2.4 to 6.4 years after the eruption. This delayed response reflects the transit time of downward-moving SO(4)(2) (-) in the vadose zone, corresponding to an apparent movement rate of 0.4 to 7.2 cm/d. The rate relates to the mean recharge, represented as a fraction of local mean rainfall, and is calculated using the Cl(-) balance method. The magnitude of the recorded increases reflects the volume of volcanic mudflow on the ground surface within the basin. For the management of ground water after an eruption, it is therefore important to know the chemical properties of the volcanic ejecta and the spatial distribution of mudflow to estimate the magnitude of the effect of ejecta on ground water quality.

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