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Flowpath delineation and ground water age, Allequash Basin, Wisconsin

January 1, 2003

An analysis of ground water flowpaths to a lake and creek in northern Wisconsin shows the flow system in a geologically simple basin dominated by lakes can be surprisingly complex. Differences in source area, i.e., lakes or terrestrial, combined with the presence of intervening lakes, which may or may not capture underflowing ground water as water moves downgradient from recharge areas, contribute to a complex mix of flowpaths. The result is water of different chemistry and vastly different ages may discharge in close proximity. Flowpaths, travel times, and capture zones in the Allequash Basin in northern Wisconsin were delineated using particle tracking based on a calibrated steady-state ground water flow model. The flowpath analysis supports the conclusions of Walker et al. (2003) who made inferences about flowpath characteristics from isotope and major ion chemistry. Simulated particle tracking agreed with Walker et al.'s measurements of water source (lake or terrestrial recharge) in the stream subsurface and also supported their assertion that ground water with a high calcium concentration in the lower basin of Allequash Lake is derived from long flowpaths. Numerical simulations show that ground water discharging in this area originates more than 5 km away in a source area located upgradient of Big Muskellunge Lake, which is upgradient of Allequash Lake. These results graphically illustrate that in settings with multiple sources of water with different age characteristics and converging flowlines (like the Allequash Basin) it may be difficult to obtain accurate estimates of ground water age by chemical analyses of ground water.

Publication Year 2003
Title Flowpath delineation and ground water age, Allequash Basin, Wisconsin
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2003.tb02432.x
Authors Christine D. Pint, Randall J. Hunt, Mary P. Anderson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ground Water
Index ID 70157361
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse