Groundwater-controlled phosphorus release and transport from sandy aquifer into lake

Jolanta Kazmierczak, Dieke Postma, Sascha Müller, Søren Jessen, Bertel Nilsson, Joanna Czekaj, Peter Engesgaard

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Awareness of groundwater-borne dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) loadings into lakes and its role in lake eutrophication is increasing, albeit DIP of natural origin is often ignored. Release of geogenic DIP from an adjacent aquifer and its transport with groundwater into a eutrophic lake is described by combining hydrogeochemical data collected in this study (sampling of piezometers, hydrogeochemical profiles, and seepage meters) with groundwater flow and discharge rates from earlier studies. The major part of the DIP that entered the lake with discharging groundwater was mobilized from iron hydroxides reduced by organic matter buried in the sediments of the old lake bottom. This is indicated by the correlation between DIP and ferrous iron (Fe2+) concentrations, with a DIP/Fe2+ molar ratio of 0.06, and an increase in pH. One-dimensional reactive transport modeling indicated that high discharge rates (' 0.1 m d−1) of anoxic groundwater upwelling in areas adjacent to the lakeshore prevent downward diffusion of oxygen into the aquifer and do not leave enough time for DIP to become rebounding to the mineral phases at the sediment-water interface. The groundwater-controlled DIP input into the lake calculated along a two-dimensional cross-section averaged 0.01 mol DIP m−2 yr−1. A 2 m wide offshore high discharge zone delivered approximately 13% of the DIP into the lake. The continuous, external loading of geogenic DIP sustains lake eutrophication and explains the failure of two previous lake restoration attempts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2188-2204
Number of pages17
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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