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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2006

Hydrochemistry of northwest Spain ponds and its relationships to groundwaters

Fernández Aláez, Camino; Fernández Aláez, Margarita; Trigal, Cristina; Luis-Santos, Beatriz


We built a classification system for lentic ecosystems and groundwaters in South-East León based on degree of mineralization and composition of major ions. In the ponds with the softest water (5 mEq/L), chlorides and bicarbonates were the main mineralizing anions. In contrast, in more highly mineralized ponds (5 mEq/L), all major ions were at comparable proportions. In these more mineralized shallow lakes, more sulphates could be found compared to less mineralized waters in the region. Independently of the level of mineralization, calcium was the predominant cation, although shallow lakes with lower mineral content favoured sodium over magnesium. The intense summer evaporation and the filling in autumn of ponds which had completely dried out and remained dry during the summer triggered changes not only in the mineral content, but also in the ionic composition of the water, with an increase in the concentrations of all ions in autumn. Overall mineralization and alkalinization were the two chief factors shaping the chemical variability of groundwater in our region. The length of flows discharging into groundwater-influenced areas shaped the general features of the wetlands studied, so that the degree of mineralization of the water in any given lake was determined in large measure by the geographical position. Thus, the greater length of flows in southerly areas of the study zone led to an increase in the more highly mineralized shallow lakes of the salinity of groundwater and of surfacing groundwater. Nonetheless, a substantial number of the ponds investigated are apparently linked to the aquifers under the “raña” formations. The chemical make-up of the water in these bodies is to some extent related to precipitation in the form of rain or in other forms and is apparently little influenced by groundwater. Hence the ponds are made up of slightly mineralized sheets of water, and can be tracked to discharges from brief surfacing groundwater flows. A link to deeper regional flows can be identified by the presence of comparatively more mineralized water bodies. Overall, outflows do not correspond to the chemical pattern of groundwaters, suggesting a more complex explanation for the hydrology of the study area.

Published in

2006, volume: 25, number: 1-2, pages: 433-452

Authors' information

Fernández Aláez, Camino
University of León
Fernández Aláez, Margarita
University of León
Trigal, Cristina
University of León
Luis-Santos, Beatriz
University of León

UKÄ Subject classification

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Environmental Sciences

URI (permanent link to this page)