The role of soil compositions in influencing groundwater geochemistry in carbonate aquifers is still little known. Nothing is known regarding the influence of pyroclastic soils (andisol) within the carbonate Apennines in central-southern Italy, despite their wide distribution. In this study we analyze some physical and chemical properties of pyroclastic soil at the Acqua dei Faggi experimental site (southern Italy), to assess its influence on groundwater geochemistry. Chemical analyses were carried out on saturated paste extracts and a physical analogue model was developed through two column experiments. Physico-chemical properties of rainwater and spring water, and some microbiological features of the soil medium were also taken into consideration.

The studied soil has a great influence in modifying rainwater chemistry during percolation. About the 50% of HCO3- and Ca2+ in spring water is due to interaction between percolation water and soil medium, and equilibrium with calcite is reached at this stage. The Na+/K+ ratio is buffered by clay minerals in the soil by primary silicates in the pyroclastic cover and then buffered. Cl- and SO42- concentrations in spring water are very close to that of soil infiltration water during short-term interaction with soil, but a decline is showed during long-term cause to the anions adsorption effect in the andisol. Chemical and microbiological investigations show the existence of a soil microbial community that allows denitrification and nitrate reduction. Infiltration processes cause anoxic conditions within the soil medium, therefore the absence of NH4+ in spring water throughout the observation period should be due to anammox processes. These findings suggest that hydrochemistry and spring chemographs may be significantly influenced by several factors, such as relationships between soil and rainwater, vegetation, and microbial communities, which are not necessarily correlated with lithological and structural features of carbonate aquifers.



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