West is evaluating the non-radioactive stable isotopes of well water to understand the relationships between wells and the aquifers supplying them.
"Stable isotopes record the evaporation and condensation histories of water and naturally 'label' different water bodies," he explained.
West said his research would lead to a better understanding of how aquifers are organized below ground.
"This allows us to know more about this unseen and complicated network of water resources and to evaluate the consequences of our activities on these water bodies," he said.
West said isotopic signatures, combined with other measurements, help to determine the distribution and efficiency of recharge into underground water bodies such as aquifers.
"It helps us determine how much water actually makes it past plant roots and into the aquifer system," he said. "It also shows us how recharge differs in a karst or limestone-based aquifer like the Edwards as opposed to a semi-consolidated sediment structure like the sandy sediments of the Carrizo-Wilcox."
West said data obtained on the two regional aquifers would help better understand and manage similar bodies in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Information derived from this research will be useful in helping water districts develop "desired future conditions" they want to meet, he said.
"In the future, aquifers in this region and throughout the U.S. will come under increased pressure to facilitate economic growth," Holloway said. "What researchers learn now about efficiently managing water resources will be vital in addressing the challenges of ensuring an adequate supply of this precious natural resource in years to come."
|Contact: Dr. John Holloway|
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications