Changing recharge pathways within an intensively pumped aquifer with high fluoride concentrations in Central Mexico. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fluoride (F), naturally found in aquifers around the world at toxic concentrations, causes disease in millions of people. The long-term stability, however, of those concentrations within intensively pumped aquifers is poorly characterized. We assessed long-term stability in the spatial distribution of F concentrations in an intensively pumped aquifer within the semi-arid, inter-montane Independence Basin in central Mexico between 1999 and 2016. Although stable in 16 re-sampled wells, F concentrations increased in some localities across the basin by as much as 4mg/L. Changes in recharge pathways to the deep aquifer were identified by analyzing changes in 2H, 18O and Cl/Br mass ratios. In 1999, 2H and 18O values suggested the aquifer was recharged in the mountains. In 2016, however, substantial increases in 18O values in the center of the basin suggest recharge water is derived from rainfall that had experienced increased evaporation. In 1999, the mass ratio Cl/Br in groundwater was slightly enriched over local rainfall, and followed a single mixing line on a plot of Cl. vs. Cl/Br. In 2016, however, three distinct groupings of wells were evident, all following different mixing lines. These changes suggest input from new sources including urban sewage, evaporate dissolution, connate sea water and geothermal waters. Step-wise multiple regression was used to quantify the impact of physical and chemical parameters on F concentrations. In 1999, Li (6.81.7) and Na (0.010.004) drove F concentrations (R2=0.54). In 2016, Na (0.0130.0018), HCO3 (0.0040.001), Ca (-0.00180.00045), and Mg (-0.0550.023) drove F concentrations (0.78). Irrigation pumping and urban expansion within semi-arid, groundwater-dependent, inter-montane basins drive mixing of disparate groundwater chemistries and introduces new sources of recharge to aquifers inducing changes in aquifer chemistry including increasing concentrations of geogenic toxic elements.

published proceedings

  • Sci Total Environ

author list (cited authors)

  • Knappett, P., Li, Y., Hernandez, H., Rodriguez, R., Aviles, M., Deng, C., ... Datta, S.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Knappett, Peter SK||Li, Yanmei||Hernandez, Horacio||Rodriguez, Rodrigo||Aviles, Manuel||Deng, Chao||PiƱa, Viri||Giardino, J Rick||Mahlknecht, Jurgen||Datta, Saugata

publication date

  • January 2018