Science Outputs

Predicting groundwater redox status on a regional scale using linear discriminant analysis

Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, Vol. 191, 19-32

Reducing conditions are necessary for denitrification, thus the groundwater redox status can be used to identify subsurface zones where potentially significant nitrate reduction can occur. Groundwater chemistry in two contrasting regions of New Zealand was classified with respect to redox status and related to mappable factors, such as geology, topography and soil characteristics using discriminant analysis. Redox assignment was carried out for water sampled from 568 and 2223 wells in the Waikato and Canterbury regions, respectively. For the Waikato region 64% of wells sampled indicated oxic conditions in the water; 18% indicated reduced conditions and 18% had attributes indicating both reducing and oxic conditions termed “mixed”. In Canterbury 84% of wells indicated oxic conditions; 10% were mixed; and only 5% indicated reduced conditions. The analysis was performed over three different well depths, < 25 m, 25 to 100 and > 100 m. For both regions, the percentage of oxidised groundwater decreased with increasing well depth. Linear discriminant analysis was used to develop models to differentiate between the three redox states. Models were derived for each depth and region using 67% of the data, and then subsequently validated on the remaining 33%. The average agreement between predicted and measured redox status was 63% and 70% for the Waikato and Canterbury regions, respectively. The models were incorporated into GIS and the prediction of redox status was extended over the whole region, excluding mountainous land. This knowledge improves spatial prediction of reduced groundwater zones, and therefore, when combined with groundwater flow paths, improves estimates of denitrification.