Environmental Controls on Groundwater Chemistry in an Offshore Island Aquifer: Fiesta Key, Florida

Donald D. Machusak, Lee R. Kump

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8 Scopus citations


A field study was undertaken on the Florida Bay side of Fiesta Key, Florida, to identify the chemical characteristics of a previously unexplored offshore groundwater system and to define the critical parameters affecting groundwater movement and interaction with sediment pore fluids and bedrock. Emphasis was placed on the upper 2 meters of bedrock, where groundwater recharge and discharge potentials are maximized, along a 100 meter transect extending from the island margin. Bedrock cores were used to describe Pleistocene depositional textures, and were sampled at discrete depths to determine the extent of water-rock interaction. Piezometers installed into each core hole were used to monitor surface and ground water tide levels, and for the systematic collection of water samples for a large suite of chemical determinations. Aqueous chemical data indicate that these groundwaters are marine in origin, anoxic, and moderately hypersaline (S = 36-40). Exchange of bedrock pore fluids with overlying Bay waters is restricted by a layer of Holocene sediment and a discontinuous soilstone crust formed at the modern bedrock surface. Groundwater chemistry near the sediment/bedrock interface is marked by elevated concentrations of total alkalinity and Ca2+, and by significant Mg2+ depletion. These waters likely acquired their unusual chemistry by mixing between deeper groundwaters and overlying, early diagenetically altered, sediment porewaters. High alkalinity and calcium concentrations presumably result from the combination of the effects of aerobic metabolism, carbonate dissolution, and sulfate reduction. Mg-depletion most likely resulted from the precipitation of Mg-calcite. These unusual chemistries disappear by 2 m depth in the groundwater system, where Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations are similar to those expected for seawater under slightly hypersaline conditions. The Pleistocene bedrock contains low Mg, Sr, F, and P concentrations relative to the overlying unconsolidated Holocene carbonate sediments. This is consistent with the diagenetic recrystallization processes that the bedrock has undergone. Hydraulic conditions favor the net recharge of Florida Bay seawater to the groundwater system, but there are insufficient tide data to identify cyclical water exchange rates or groundwater flow patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-167
Number of pages39
JournalAquatic Geochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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