Spatial Distribution of Solutes in Aquifer Outcrop Zones along the Brazos River, East-Central Texas


Department of Geography and Environmental Science Program, University of North Texas 1155 Union Circle #305279, Denton, TX 76203-5017, USA


Concentrations of several solutes – nitrate, arsenic, sulfate, boron, chloride, and bromide – along with total dissolved solids (TDS) in ten counties bordering the Brazos River in east-central Texas were compiled, mapped, and analyzed relative to regional land use and geology. Agriculture and oil/gas production are major activities and potential sources of groundwater contamination in the study area. Data were compiled from 104 water wells with a median depth of 446 ft (136 m) in the outcrop zones of six sedimentary aquifers: Carizzo-Wilcox, Queen City, Sparta, Yegua-Jackson, Gulf Coast, and Brazos Alluvium. Only two observations surpassed the 44.3 mg/L drinking water standard for nitrate, and four observations exceeded the 10 ug/L standard for arsenic. The median chloride concentration was 53 mg/L; however, the maximum level was almost three times the secondary drinking water standard of 250 mg/L. Chloride, bromide, sulfate, and boron concentrations resembled TDS patterns, with numerous samples exceeding secondary TDS drinking water standards in the Yegua-Jackson Aquifer. Most chloride/bromide ratios were between 100 and 300. Overall, results of this study suggest that natural processes exert a primary control on solute concentrations in the above aquifers, with a potential for modest anthropogenic impacts from agriculture and oil/gas production.