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Groundwater characteristics at Seabee Hook, Cape Hallett, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2006

Erica H. Hofstee
Affiliation:
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, The University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
Dave I. Campbell
Affiliation:
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, The University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
Megan R. Balks
Affiliation:
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, The University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
Jackie Aislabie
Affiliation:
Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton, New Zealand

Abstract

Seabee Hook is a low lying gravel spit adjacent to Cape Hallett, northern Victoria Land, in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica and hosts an Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) rookery. Dipwells were inserted to monitor changes in depth to, and volume of, groundwater and tracer tests were conducted to estimate aquifer hydraulic conductivity and groundwater velocity. During summer (November–February), meltwater forms a shallow, unconfined, aquifer perched on impermeable ice cemented soil. Groundwater extent and volume depends on the amount of snowfall as meltwater is primarily sourced from melting snow drifts. Groundwater velocity through the permeable gravel and sand was up to 7.8 m day−1, and hydraulic conductivities of 4.7 × 10−4 m s−1 to 3.7 × 10−5 m s−1 were measured. The presence of the penguin rookery, and the proximity of the sea, affects groundwater chemistry with elevated concentrations of salts (1205 mg L−1 sodium, 332 mg L−1 potassium) and nutrients (193 mg L−1 nitrate, 833 mg L−1 ammonia, 10 mg L−1 total phosphorus) compared with groundwater sourced away from the rookery, and with other terrestrial waters in Antarctica.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Antarctic Science Ltd 2006

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