2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 210-32
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


GLASER, Jayde K., Department of Chemistry, Wittenberg University, PO Box 720, Springfield, OH 45501 and FORTNER, Sarah K., Geology, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH 45501, glaserj@wittenberg.edu

Many studies have suggested that sodium and chloride concentrations in fresh bodies of water have increased due to urban and agricultural salt runoff. This study compares concentrations and flow behavior from the Great Miami River to the Ohio River to see if the sub-watershed is relatively more or less salty than the Ohio River basin and understand dynamics. Using the Ion Chromatograph at Wittenberg University we analyzed chloride and sodium concentrations from more than 500 samples collected by the Miami Conservancy District between 2013 and 2015 from the Great Miami River near Fairfield, Ohio. Associated discharge behavior is derived from the Great Miami River at Hamilton USGS stream gauge. Comparison samples from the Ohio River are from Grand Chain, Illinois and are lower resolution (fewer total samples), but cover a larger time period (1954-2015). We hypothesized that the Great Miami River would have higher concentrations of these ions than the Ohio River as a whole given that it is well noted for agricultural and urban water quality impairment. Median sodium and chloride concentrations were relatively higher in the Great Miami River (18.4 mg/l and 40.0 mg/l) than in the Ohio River (11.3 mg/l and 16.6 mg/l). Seasonal behavior vs. flow indicates that both rivers receive urban and agricultural salt contributions. Concentrations and seasonal dynamics suggest that the Great Miami River is more affected by runoff salts than the Ohio River as a whole. This research is important because excessive amount of salt runoff into freshwater bodies can destroy natural habitats and make the area unlivable for a variety of species. It can also affect drinking wells for humans making them too contaminated to use and therefore they are abandoned. Sodium is a very reactive ion and can react with other ions, and while chloride is not as reactive the process of desalination is extremely complicated and expensive.