North-Central Section - 50th Annual Meeting - 2016

Paper No. 34-12
Presentation Time: 5:10 PM


KANE, Katelyn, Geology, Northern Illinois University, 235 S Sacramento St, Unit F, Sycamore, IL 60178 and LENCZEWSKI, Melissa, Geology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115,

The Yucatan Peninsula is the world’s largest connected karst cave system. The highly fractured limestone and scarce soil allows precipitation to rapidly infiltrate the groundwater system identified as the Yucatan Aquifer. The geology of the area also prevents the accumulation of surface water; as such groundwater is the only source of fresh water on the peninsula. The shallow Yucatan Aquifer allows contaminants to easily migrate into the groundwater.

The state of Quintana Roo, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula is economically dependent on the tourism industry. This study focuses on an assessment of ten locations where direct access to the groundwater is available. Water samples are collected and tested for contaminants thought to be attributable to tourism. The goal of the study is to determine the main threats to public health.

The sites are tested for environmental constituents along with nutrients and various metals concentrations. In laboratory Total Coliform and E.coli fecal bacteria are tested for as a most probable number method and antibiotic presence/ absence tests are performed. The oxygen isotope values were also analyzed. DNA samples from each site were sent out for sequencing. Samples were collected February, April, and June shortly after optimal times of tourist occupancy and during the low tourist season of October. Results have shown high amounts of Total Coliform and E.coli fecal bacteria. The nutrient levels and metals are in low concentrations. The antibiotic tests produced negative results. The current findings of this study suggest that the primary contaminants are the bacteria.

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