INTEGRATING RESEARCH INTO TEACHING: AN 11 WEEK CHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF EAST AND WEST BRANCHES OF THE TIOUGHNIOGA RIVER, NEW YORK
The 11 weeks’ flow data shows the East Branch contributes more than half of the water to the Tioughnioga River and also responds to precipitation events quicker, whereas discharge of the West Branch remained fairly constant. Waters in two branches are slightly alkaline. Ca2+, Mg2+ and Na+ are the dominant cations. HCO3- and Cl- are the dominant anions. The richness of Ca2+, Mg2+ and HCO3- as well as their approximately 1:2 stoichiometric ratio of Ca2+ plus Mg2+ versus HCO3- suggests that waters in the area are mostly controlled by carbonate weathering. Elevated concentrations of Na+ and Cl- are a result of road salt applied to large roadways such as Interstate-81 in the West Branch watershed and Route 13 in the East Branch watershed, which the rivers are adjacent to. Higher concentrations of NO3- in the West Branch can be accredited to the nearly 10% greater agricultural area in that watershed. Dilution effects are evident across both branches during high flow conditions. The students involved report the experience as both a valuable and effective method of teaching. This project has provided students with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct further research in the field of hydrogeology, in addition to producing integral water quality and flow data on this important watershed.