Gunn, John, Bottrell, Simon H., Lowe, David J. and Worthington, Stephen R.H. (2006) Deep groundwater flow and geochemical processes in limestone aquifers: evidence from thermal waters in Derbyshire, England, UK. Hydrogeology Journal, 14 (6). pp. 868-881. ISSN 1435-0157

Thermal waters potentially provide information on geochemical processes acting deep within aquifers. New isotopic data on groundwater sulphate, inorganic carbon and strontium in thermal and non-thermal waters of a major limestone aquifer system in Derbyshire, England, UK, are used to constrain sulphate sources and groundwater evolution. Shallow groundwaters gain sulphate from oxidation of sulphide minerals and have relatively 13C-depleted dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). Thermal waters have relatively high Sr/Ca and more 13C-enriched DIC as a result of increased water–rock interaction. In other respects, the thermal waters define two distinct groups. Thermal waters rising at Buxton have higher Mg, Mn and 87Sr/86Sr and lower Ca and SO4, indicating flow from deep sandstone aquifers via a high permeability pathway in the limestone. By contrast, Matlock-type waters (97% of the thermal flux) have elevated sulphate concentrations derived from interaction with buried evaporites, with no chemical evidence for flow below the limestone. About 5% of the limestone area's groundwater flows to the Matlock group springs via deep regional flow and the remainder flows via local shallow paths to many non-thermal springs. Gypsum dissolution has produced significant tertiary porosity and tertiary permeability in the carbonate aquifer and this is an essential precursor to the development of karstic drainage.

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