Faculty mentor: Ken Voglesonger
The Yucatán Peninsula has some unique geological features called cenotes, which are natural passageways that connect activities on the surface to the groundwater below. Cenotes are commonly used for recreation and represent a major portion of the tourism industry in the Cancún area. This year, in conjunction with the groundwater flow team, we are particularly interested in examining how water chemistry might vary with groundwater inputs and outputs to cenotes. Can we use water chemistry to determine if there are different sources for groundwater flow, and can we use that information to determine groundwater flow on a more regional scale? Some ideas about ways to do this:
- Working with the groundwater flow team, identify potential inflows and outflows in cenotes
- Devise a way to sample groundwater inflow
- Analyze the inorganic chemistry of the samples to characterize potential sources of groundwater flow.
This project will involve the chemical analysis of major anions and cations, nitrogen (NO2-, NO3-, NH4+), dissolved oxygen (O2, aq), other important geochemical parameters to fully characterize the samples retrieved from the cenotes. It will also involve analysis of the data to determine how the different samples are geochemically related. Through this work, we can start to identify not only how water moves into and out of the cenotes, but also gain some insight into how the different cenotes are connected, and if they share a similar source. Students will learn to create a sampling plan, collect and preserve water samples from cenotes and perform different types of chemical and biological analyses.
This project will consist of one faculty mentor and 1-2 students. While candidates are suggested to have background in general chemistry, geology/earth science, and environmental science, all interested students are welcome.