Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hot Spots and Persistence of Nitrate in Aquifers Across Scales

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.

Nitrate-N (NO3- - N) is one of the most pervasive contaminants in groundwater. Nitrate in groundwater exhibits long-term behavior due to complex interactions at multiple scales among various geophysical factors, such as sources of nitrate-N, characteristics of the vadose zone and aquifer attributes. To minimize contamination of nitrate-N in groundwater, it is important to estimate hot spots (>10 mg/L of NO3- - N), trends and persistence of nitrate-N in groundwater. To analyze the trends and persistence of nitrate-N in groundwater at multiple spatio-temporal scales, we developed and used an entropy-based method along with the Hurst exponent in two different hydrogeologic settings: The Trinity and Ogallala Aquifers in Texas at fine (2 km × 2 km), intermediate (10 km × 10 km) and coarse (100 km × 100 km) scales. Results show that nitrate-N exhibits long-term persistence at the intermediate and coarse scales. In the Trinity Aquifer, overall mean nitrate-N has declined with a slight increase in normalized marginal entropy (NME) over each decade from 1940 to 2008; however, the number of hot spots has increased over time. In the Ogallala Aquifer, overall mean nitrate-N has increased with slight moderation in NME since 1940; however, the number of hot spots has significantly decreased for the same period at all scales.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item