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Geochemical Markers as a Tool for the Characterization of a Multi-Layer Urban Aquifer: The Case Study of Como (Northern Italy)

Vitenskapelig artikkel
Eksterne nettsted
Gilberto Binda
Gilberto Binda, Francesca Frascoli, Davide Spanu, Maria F. Ferrario, Silvia Terrana, Roberto Gambillara, Sara Trotta, Paula J. Noble, Franz A. Livio, Andrea Pozzi, Alessandro M. Michetti


The analysis of geochemical markers is a known valid tool to explore the water sources and understand the main factors affecting natural water quality, which are known issues of interest in environmental science. This study reports the application of geochemical markers to characterize and understand the recharge areas of the multi-layer urban aquifer of Como city (northern Italy). This area presents a perfect case study to test geochemical markers: The hydrogeological setting is affected by a layered karst and fractured aquifer in bedrock, a phreatic aquifer hosted in Holocene sediments and connected with a large freshwater body (Lake Como); the aquifers recharge areas and the water geochemistry are unknown; the possible effect of the tectonic setting on water flow was overlooked. In total, 37 water samples were collected including water from two stacked aquifers and surface water to characterize hydrochemical features. Moreover, six sediment samples in the recent palustrine deposits of the Como subsurface were collected from cores and analyzed to understand the main geochemistry and mineralogy of the hosting material. The chemical analyses of water allow to observe a remarkable difference between the shallow and deep aquifers of the study area, highlighting different recharge areas, as well as a different permanence time in the aquifers. The sediment geochemistry, moreover, confirms the differences in trace elements derived from sediment-water interaction in the aquifers. Finally, an anomalous concentration of As in the Como deep aquifer was observed, suggesting the need of more detailed analyses to understand the origin of this element in water. This study confirms the potentials of geochemical markers to characterize main factors affecting natural water quality, as well as a tool for the reconstruction of recharge areas.