AN 11-YEAR RECORD OF GROUNDWATER AGE, CHEMISTRY AND STABLE ISOTOPIC COMPOSITION OF DISCHARGE FROM FURNACE SPRING, SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, VIRGINIA
Seasonal and long term trends were evident in the spring water data. The apparent (piston flow) SF6 age of the water varied seasonally between about modern in January to 2.5 years in June, and returned to near modern by December. The apparent SF6 age was inversely correlated with discharge. δ2H and δ18O showed variations that were correlated to the annual Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), with δ2H and δ18O trending more positive with below-normal precipitation, and more negative in periods with elevated amounts of precipitation. Recharge temperature from dissolved gasses (N2-Ar) was found to vary with water discharge temperature on a seasonal basis. Large precipitation events caused high excess air in spring discharge and abrupt changes in water discharge temperatures; initial cooling in summer and initial warming in winter, and return to ambient, indicating a relatively short interval between recharge and discharge. The water discharge rate correlated inversely with concentrations of dissolved SiO2, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, Cl-, and HCO3-, that were at a maximum during low discharge in late summer (August-September). Levels of SO42-, and NO3- were invariant in comparison.
Over the entire FS dataset, the average pH of Furnace Spring water decreased from 6.64 to 5.90, the specific conductance increased from 48 to 52 , and the mean annual discharge temperature increased from 8.3 in 1999 to 8.6ºC in 2007. During this time period, the concentrations of Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, Cl-, HCO3-, and SO4-2 increased, while NO3- remained constant.