Assessment of sources and transformation of nitrate in groundwater on the slopes of Mount Meru, Tanzania
Muzuka, Alfred N. N.
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The stable isotope compositions of nitrogen-nitrate (15N-NO3) and oxygen-nitrate (18O-NO3), and concentration of nutrients (NO3- NH4+, NO2 -, PO4 3- ) for water samples collected from springs, shallow wells and boreholes during dry and wet seasons were used to investigate sources and biogeochemical transformation of NO3- in groundwater along the slopes of Mount Meru. About 80 % of all water sources had nitrate concentration higher than background concentration of 10 mg/l during both seasons, while NH4+ and NO2 - concentrations were very low probably due to nitrification. Concentrations of NO3- above 50 mg/l were observed in some water sources. Concentrations of PO43- in all groundwater sources were very low during the two seasons owing to dilution and adsorption. The δ15N-NO3- for boreholes waters averaged +11.6 ± 2.1 and +10.7 ± 2.1 0/00 during dry and wet seasons, respectively. Similarly, the δ18 O-NO3 - of bore-hole waters for the wet and dry season’s averaged +5.2 ± 1.3 and +4.6 ± 1.9 %, respectively. With regard to dug wells, the δ15 O-NO3 - of well water averaged +13.3 ± 2.5 and +12.5 ± 2.3 %0 during dry and wet seasons, respectively, while the δ18 O-NO3 m- for the wet and dry seasons averaged +7 ± 2.3 and +6.4 ± 2.1 %, respectively. The δ15 O-NO3 -, for +11.2 ± 2.2 % during dry season and +11.7 ± 3.5 %0 during wet season whereas the δ18 O-NO3 - for the wet and dry seasons averaged +7.3 ± 3.6 and ?5.9 ± 2.6 %0, respectively. The isotopic data suggested that the source of NO3 - in the water sources are dominated by sewage and/or animal manure and to less extent, soil organic N. Few samples collected in close proximity of manure heaps and sanitary facilities had d15N values between 16 and 20 % suggesting occurrence of denitrification.