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Study of water chemistry and microbes of open waters in Rice County to change the title use the 'Full Editing Tools' option on the right

Bereket Haileab
Author Profile
This information was derived from your initial application. The goals and assessment sections should be updated as you move through the project.

Project Description

Over the last 10 years students from several in introductory geology and advanced geology classes have studied water chemistry from lakes, streams and rivers in Rice County. From these studies it has been found that most of the lakes are eutrophic, or nutrient rich with limited oxygen in the bottom later of the water and most of the streams carry nutrients that exceed some of the EPA limits for drinking water. Most of the wells that are coming from the deeper aquifers show signs of contamination from surface runoffs. The lakes, streams and wells are affected by human activities; therefore monitoring each lake and stream will be of great benefit to the people interested in these lakes. Multiple seasons of water collection will gives us the opportunity to characterize geographical trends in surface water geochemistry of Rice County lakes and streams.


This summer the first goal is to continue monitoring water chemistry of about 105 sites in the county. We will measure concentration of nitrate, chloride, calcium, temperature, phosphate, turbidity and conductivity. We will analyze selected samples by ICP-MS for a broader range of geochemistry including stable isotopes.
The second goal is to study the microbial (bacterial) diversity in surface waters and surface sediments at selected stream localities for which we have the above geochemical data. Last summer we chose 20 of the 105 localities for this work, and identified some microbes. This summer, the goals are to: 1) revisit all or most of the 20 sites visited and sampled last year and assess temporal variation in bacterial communities and 2) potentially broaden the number of sites used for microbiology, giving us a better chance to determine whether microbes are impacted by the major nutrients named above (nitrate, phosphate) and in turn qualitatively assess the role of microbial metabolism in the transport of these nutrients downstream.

Next fall, students from introduction to geology course will collect water from all the sites and analyze for nutrients and identify microbes at some sites. The students involved in these projects would be exposed to a more intense session of geochemical analyses, data gathering, interpretation and geomicrobiology and make use of this summer as well as past years data.

Goal #1. At the end of the term students will be able to will be able to carry out field and laboratory analyses that are routinely performed in low temperature geochemical research.
Goal #2. The dynamics of water in the landscape is spatial and my students at the end of the term will see this problem after they have completed their analyses and used GIS to study and map their findings.
Goal #3. Of course, student will learn how to collect water samples, analyze, interpret, write and present their findings professionally.empty


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