Earth & Environmental Science Journalism:

Science Research Project


Tree Growth and Spring Water Chemistry at Mohonk Mountain, New York.

Andrea Gawrylewski


Ten trees were cored at three spring sites on Mohonk Mountain, New York.  Tree ring chronologies were constructed from the cores.  Water characteristics of each spring site were also examined, particularly pH, electrical conductivity as a proxy for total dissolved solids and temperature.  This study suggests an inverse relationship between total dissolved solids and hydrogen ion concentration among all of the spring locations.  Additionally, Rhododendron Swamp Spring had significantly cooler water temperatures than the other two sites.  Rhododendron Swamp trees also had the lowest growth rates but experienced an increase in growth in 1869, likely in response to increased light with construction of the adjoining carraige road.  Tree growth at the other sites, Mossy Brook Bank and Mossy Brook Spring, slowed in years of severe drought and from the effects of the wooly adelgid, respectively. 


This chart shows the results of water sampling with Total Disssolved Solids (TDS) in gray overlain by Average H+ for each of the Spring tested. TDS is influenced by rock bedrock and soil interactions. A high TDS suggests more interaction between the water and surrounding bedrock and soil and low TDS the opposite. Both TDS and H+ are influenced by bedrock/soil interactions as the groundwater flows through cracks and pores. Higher TDS and lower H+ are both associated with more extensive reactions between water and bedrock or soil. The observation that TDS is higher in springs where H+ is lower suggests that the amount of water/rock interaction is a controlling factor in the chemistry of springs.

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Last updated: 8 January 2001, KAK.