Friday, September 28, 2012


Water quality relates to both geology/nature, as well as human beings, in a multitude of different ways. Geologists are interested in water quality, because of its relation to nature within the critical zone, which inherently has different levels of effects on humans in society. There are a number of issues, in terms of water quality, related to geology, for example, geologists have been measuring water for decades, conducting millions of measurements and analyses that have brought endless data on water quality. These measurements often times find something important about the water and the environment around it. For instance, these measurements find out the water ways properties, and the implications that these properties pose for the water way, as well as, the way these properties vary over time. So, if for example, the levels of the PH, conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrate or othro-phosphate begin to change from the results of the measurements taken from samples, than one can deduct that that something is going on somewhere that is affecting the water, and possibly, the water quality, which naturally can have negative implications for humans, since our very survival relies on water and its quality.

            I graphed the parameter of measurements of conductivity in the Mad River for the most recent 12-month consecutive period. Conductivity is the amount of dissolved material in water and is a measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current. Furthermore, conductivity is linked directly to the total dissolved solids that are present in the water. As the webpage states, “The conductivity of rivers in the United States generally ranges from 50 to 1500 µmhos/cm. Studies of inland fresh waters indicate that streams supporting good mixed fisheries have a range between 150 and 500 µhos/cm. Conductivity outside this range could indicate that the water is not suitable for certain species of fish or macro invertebrates. Industrial waters can range as high as 10,000 µmhos/cm.” The graph of the data from the measurements of conductivity in the Mad River for the most recent 12 month consecutive periods trends, or lack thereof, correspond with this research.

            As one can see looking at the graph and having the knowledge of the dates when this data was taken, which are, 1) 6/23/2009, 2) 6/30/2009, 3) 7/7/2009, 4) 7/14/2009, 5) 7/21/2009, 6) 7/29/2009, 7) 8/3/2009, 8) 8/11/2009, 9) 8/18/2009, 10) 8/24/2009, 11) 8/31/2009, 12) 9/28/2009. Since this data set was measured during the months of June, July, August and September, the scatterplot isn’t exactly constant; however they do follow the seasonal trends, meaning that they are all quite moderate, because of the months that this data set is taken from. However, there are high levels of conductivity in low flow during the summer months and low conductivity when it rains, and pollution, as well as groundwater, can affect the conductivity in a stream or river, like Mad River.

Stefan Latham

PH level

Zach Smith
Dr. Fortner
September 28, 2012
Blog 3
            Water quality relates to geology/nature and humans in many different ways. First we need to understand what water quality is, water quality is “an assessment of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water, especially how they relate to the suitability of that water for a particular use.” Geologists are interested in water quality, because of its relation to nature within the critical zone, which has different levels of effects on humans in the society we live in today. Water quality has a number of issues, and can be related to geology because geologists have been sampling water for years, collecting millions of samples testing the changes in the water in the different level of measurments which are, the levels of the PH, conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrate or othro-phosphate. When these begin to change from the results of the measurements taken from samples, than one can begin to infer that that something is going on somewhere in the water that is affecting the water, which hurts the water quality, having negative consequences for humans, due to the dependency we have to water as humans.

I graphed the PH level over the year. According to PH is “the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.  A low pH indicates acidic conditions and a high pH indicates basic conditions.  pH is actually a measure of the amount of hydrogen ions in solution.  In fact, some people think of it as being the “power of hydrogen.”  A low pH has a large number of free hydrogen ions in the water, whereas a high pH has relatively few.  Technically, pH is the negative logarithm of the free hydrogen activity in a solution.” PH is very important to the water quality. The website goes on to say that “pH is highly important and is used to monitor for safe water conditions.  Many animals cannot live in a pH level below 5 or above 9.  Once the normal pH range for water has been established, a rise or fall in pH can indicate chemical pollution, or acid rain.” PH needs to be monitored on a regular basis so that we know if our water is becoming polluted or not and if it is safe to drink or be in/around.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mad River Basin: Physiochemical Parameters

     Any aquatic system is directly affected by the surrounding environment. The types of minerals and sediments that end up in suspension are a byproduct of the composition of the surrounding geologic features that the body of water moves through. Because of both biotic (nitrogen fixing, byproducts of life processes, weathering from plant growth, etc.) and abiotic factors (Rainfall, erosion, mechanical weathering from wind, etc.), particles in rock and soil naturally end up in waterways. Human activity is unique in that we can have a very dramatic effect on the water quality. Through mining, pollution, construction, and redirecting natural flow of waterways, we are able to make a large impact in a relatively short time.

     The parameters that we tested include pH, temperature, specific conductivity, and total alkalinity. By measuring pH, one can find the relative concentration of H+ ions dissolved in the waterway. Temperature may vary depending on season, elevation, type of runoff flowing into the system, etc.Specific conductivity measures the concentration of electrolytes (in our case, CaCO3), in suspension, and finally, total alkalinity measures a waterway's ability to neutralize acids that enter the system (commonly confused with basicity). When comparing the Mad River to other, larger aquatic systems, all of these measured values will vary more over time in the Mad River because of its smaller volume. A smaller volume is more susceptible to swings in both solvent concentration and temperature.

     A seasonal change in pH can be seen below in Figure 1:

Figure 1: The figure above, displaying the pH readings over the course of one calender year (2009)was taken from the Mad River. There is no trend that can be seen as the year progresses.

     Below in Figure 2, a seasonal trend can be seen when looking at temperature readings throughout the year:

Figure 2: The readings taken from the Mad River over the course of the year have a definite trend, increasing over the summer months when air temperatures are elevated and decreasing during the winter months when air temperatures drop.

- Evan A.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Physio-chemical Parameters pH and Nitrate in Mad River Basin

Geology+Water Quality
~Water quality relates to geology/nature because it is the one of the main sources of life. Without water that is good quality( not being polluted), living organisms would not be able to live. Poor water quality can contain high levels of nitrate, pH, or nitrogen causing marine life not to be able to sustain these levels. It does so by increasing the growth of plants which put too much oxygen into the water. 
Water quality is also very important for humans. If there is poor water quality it can cause health problems such as E.Coli because of the bacteria.This can cause illnesses and even death if the quality is poor enough.(source: 

What is Nitrate?
~ A salt or ester of nitric acid, containing the group NO3. Nitrates dissolve extremely easily in water and are an important component of the nitrogen cycle. it is important for streams and their aquatic life because plants use it to build protein, though concentrations over 10mg/L will have an effect causing the organisms to die off. (

What is pH?
~ A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, numerically equal to 7 for neutral solutions, increasing with increasing alkalinity and decreasing with increasing acidity. The pH scale commonly in use ranges from 0 to 14. It is important to streams and their aquatic life because it determine the largest variety of freshwater organisms. These organism prefer pH levels between 6.5-8.00. (
~ The U.S Environmental Protection Agency did studies of the Mad River for Water Quality in order to determine if it was safe for recreational use. ( source:

~ Data plotted for 1 Year of pH levels and Nitrate levels and their trends:

** Please note click on graphs to view bigger**
Through these graphs have a lack of trend and also a lack of seasonal pattern this is because it all changes and factors such as temperature can change these levels.

By: Emilie Naccarato and Shirley:)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

C.J. Brown Dam & Reservoir, Springfield, Ohio

The CJ Brown Reservoir was created to minimize the effects of flooding on downstream Buck Creek. The construction of dams creates an opportunity to release water when needed (e.g. in Springfield during times of low flow on Buck Creek when fish might normally not survive & waters would be hard to navigate). Dams are source of electricity to many places. Dams also interact with Critical Zone processes, stopping sediment from flowing downstream, creating reservoirs that draw down nutrient excess. While this may be a benefit in agricultural areas (removing excess fertilizer), dams ultimately fail. They have a finite lifespan due to the limitations of construction and the force from built-up sediment.

Geology of Critical Zone Class at CJ Brown Reservoir

In class we discussed the Aswan Dam in Egypt that created jobs and made it possible to regulate the Nile for farmlands near the dam. Drawbacks included interrupting the age-old cycle of fertility from natural flooding, the salinization of upstream farmland through irrigation from the reservoir, Lake Nassar, and the loss of land and artifacts where the lake was created, and the sinking of the delta from loss of new sediment.

Outflow, water is released from CJ Brown here
Stage Height is measured at the outflow to calculate total volume of water released.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Biodiversity in Wetlands

     From a biological perspective, wetlands offer a habitat to many species of organisms. These are areas that can support seasonal inhabitants as well as year-round because of the high amounts of biomass and nutrients.

     The aquatic environment is a unique one because it is home to a wide variety of shallow water species. These organisms must be able to thrive in an oxygen-poor environment because of the lack of moving water in ecosystems like a wetland. The often temporary pools offer breeding grounds for various amphibian species who prefer the relative protection from predators that tall wetland grass offers.

     The terrestrial species that inhabit these environments are unique because they must be well adapted to navigating tall grasses and climbing vertically to avoid flooding. Rodent species nests often rest above the surface to avoid exposure to the damp environment below. The eating habits of these organisms often dictate the dispersal of seeds around a wetland.

     These environments are very suitable for native species and not surprisingly offer the same suitability to invasive species as well. One species in particular has made an appearance all across the United States and is moving globally as well: the American Bullfrog. In 2003, Rolando Mazzoni and his research team came out with a study that explored the impact of a bullfrog invasion (1). Bullfrogs are a carrier of an infectious disease that effects other amphibians called the Chytrid fungus. Bullfrogs are able to use the rich environment that the wetlands offer, and breed rapidly.

     Another invasive species that is spreading rapidly is the Asian Exotic Honeysuckle. In 2007, Todd Hutchinson and John Vankat released a study on the invasive nature of Honeysuckle here in Ohio (2). Since it is the first to leaf out in the early spring, it is able to out compete the other native species for sunlight. Because of this trait, it is able to grow rapidly at the beginning of spring and leach the soil of surrounding nutrients. While growing rapidly, it is choking the surrounding plant life of precious nutrients. The picture below shows the current distribution of the Honeysuckle plant:

     Wetlands provide a rich environment for a wide variety of species, but also prove to be good stopping grounds for prevalent invasive species. Tracking the presence of invasive species would be an interesting topic for us at our study site at Ohio State.

- Evan

1. Mazzoni, R., Cunningham, A. A., Daszak, P., Apolo, A., Perdomo, E. and Speranza, G. 2007. Emerging Pathogen of Wild Amphibians in Frogs (Rana catesbeiana) Farmed for International Trade. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 9, 995-998.

2. Hutchinson, T. F. and Vankat, J. L. 1997. Invasibility and Effects of Amur Honeysuckle in Southwestern Ohio Forests. Conservation Biology. 11, 1117-1124.

There are many economic benefits of wetlands. Not only do they help with flood control, but they are big wildlife habitat for many different kinds of species. They also help many commercial fishing companies. Wetlands provide 75% of the fish harvested in the United States. Wetlands also help provide many recreational activities. Wetlands provide clean drinking water because of its natural filtration system.

Although this is a chart for Michigan, it shows the economic value of wetlands. As I mentioned before, wetlands provide a big percent of fish. Wetlands also provide recreational, hunting, and trapping grounds.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wetlands and Education

How do wetlands have anything to do with the education department?

              Being an education major, it almost seems like education and wetlands are silly things to try to connect. One might ask themselves "How in the world would these two things have anything in common?". The answer to that question lies within what we can teach the children and how we go about doing so. As a teacher, you must have lesson plans for every subject you teach everyday. There are also content standards one must meet for every core subject ( language arts, social studies, science, and math). By going through these standards you can decide where and how you can integrate wetland education into a topic you are already teaching the children about. Source: (Ohio's State Standards)
            On another note, teaching young children about wetlands could be very good for the future of wetlands. Getting children involved by educating them and involving them in wetland projects is just a start that could spark an interest and help them develop a passion for wetland research and water conservation in general.There is a very helpful website for wetland education. This website provides activities, curriculum/guides, education programs, teaching tools, videos, and links for teachers to use in the classroom. There are also many different projects and organizations that one can get their students involved in.
Source: (Wetlands Education

This is the cover of an online book that is available for children to become more familiar with information about wetlands.

An example of a wetland activity that is readily available to use in the classroom:

               By being a part of the group project I will be exposed to methods of instruction and be able to experience working with a wetland firsthand. I may be able to use these experiences later in life when I am teaching about science. I could also take my students to a wetland and expose them to the same opportunity I am being given.
Societal Importance of Wetlands



Wetlands hold a great deal of importance to human society. The reasons for this level of importance, is the level of value that is attached to the wetlands, for human society, in many different areas of human society. For instance, wetlands hold numerous economic benefits, through the yield of resouces and commodities, such as, fish and other game, as well as cleaner water, stopping pollutants, stopping floods and creating jobs. Wetlands are also extemely important to the environment which we all live in, as I touched on before, the wetlands clense the water and sustain the food chain, which is imperative to our survival.  Another reason wetlands hold societal relevance, importance and value, is that they are tools of eductation, teaching us about the past, present and future implications. These are some reasons why Wetlands are valuable to human society. This is very interesting to me, in terms of my major of sociology, and could certainly be what I continue to explore as we work our way up through the semester towards our group projects. The evidence I have found thus far shows nothing but positive implications of wetlands in society,

website with picture that relates to topic:

The picture on this website relates to the topic of the societal importance of wetlands because it is a graph, showing the economic value of wetlands in Michigan, whcih I'm sure are similar to the economic value wetlands could potentially yield in Ohio.


A Environmentalist View of Wetlands

Why Would an Environmentalist look at Wetlands?

~ Being an environmental studies major looking at wetlands relates to my field because if I was focusing on water quality, wetlands help filter out harmful substances. Wetlands are a very interesting ecosystem as well. They may provide answers to why species are dying off in the water, if the water quality is poor, or why a species is thriving in filtered water.
~ Studies showed in the article by Robert Evans, the water quality was able to become better once it went through the wetlands. The pollutants were diluted. This proves that through wetlands environmental may find better ways to purify water that has been polluted. Source: ( According to another article scientist may use wetlands to better understand the ecosystem in which organisms live in. These can be utilized to spread awareness to the public and make the environment a better place.
Source: (

This Image shows how water quality has been improved with Wetlands.
In the early 1980s, several independent research groups, including one in North Carolina, investigated how wooded riparian areas reduce pollution in water flow originating from upland areas, such as agricultural fields. Although the groups used somewhat different approaches, their results were similar. Source of Fig 1 and wording below, (

~ For our group project all this data could allow me to focus on the water quality of Buck Creek. Comparing that water to tap water for pH levels. Also it could help me compare factors up stream to down stream. In some cases up stream water quality could be poorer than down stream.

By: Emilie Naccarato

Social Importance of Wetlands

(website I used for this was a pdf again and I still don't know how to take images off of the pdf, but figure one works perfect for what I am talking about.)
(Here is the other site I used)

2) Wetlands are very important in society. They are important because wetland functions
can provide goods such as agricultural products or fisheries, services such as flood control and
water quality maintenance, and have attributes including biodiversity and cultural uniqueness.
Together these factors provide values to society, which are capable of supporting economic, social
and environmental development objectives. The relationships among these concepts for river
marginal wetlands is shown in Figure 1. Also wetlands can have a great impact on the culture of people. Wetlands can have great historical, social, and spiritual significance. The example used is the wetlands are focal points for certain human communities such as the Aboriginal people. This is important for our group project so that we can fully understand what wetlands mean to people all around the world and the significance they have socially and culturally. 

1) How did the till layer on top of the bedrock form? Also, what happens to bedrock now, are we forming more, or is it disappearing?

The till layer formed from years of sediments being placed on the surface from glaciers. Bedrock is not forming but disappearing due to the erosion and the tectonic plates moving.

-Zach Smith

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Field trip! Olentangy River Experimental Wetland Park

Dr. William Mitsch with our  Geology of the Critical Zone class at the 'planted wetland'  Olentangy Experimental Wetland Park

Muskrats & many birds are members of the wetland community

On Friday, we traveled to the Olentangy River Experimental Wetland Park.  Here we met with Dr. William Mitsch, an author of many peer reviewed articles, an OSU Distinguished Scholar, and the innovative scientist behind the creation of the experimental wetlands that are internationally known. Dr. Mitsch provided us with some good analogies on how wetlands function as kidneys and we were able to view the two created wetlands (one planted with wetland vegetation, one not planted). To learn more about the experiment and see some great pictures of the wetlands that actually look like kidneys check out this site:
Thanks for the tour!