Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Duke Ophori

Committee Member

Clement Alo

Committee Member

Huan Feng


Sodium chloride deicing salts have been used to remove snow and ice from roadways in the Northern United States since the early 1900s. Road deicing reduces accident rates, road delays, and improve road accessibility. While it is known that the use of road deicers is beneficial, road salts have also been shown to affect surface water and groundwater quality. This study conducted major ion concentration analyses on groundwater samples collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for the Upper Passaic River Basin (UPRB). Results show that the contribution of chloride to total dissolved solids increased significantly by 2010. Trend plots show strong correlation of increases in sodium and chloride with time that are not observed with other major ions such as calcium and magnesium. Decadal bivariate plots of sodium against chloride show strong increases in correlation from 1960 to 2010 and an overall strong correlation while those of calcium against chloride and calcium against sodium display poor correlation. Plots of piper diagrams show that the ionic composition of groundwater samples has changed through time, starting as a single Ca(HCO3)2 species and shifting towards a NaCl dominated species. In general, groundwater in the UPRB is fresh with total dissolved solids less than 500 mg/L. Against the natural evolutionary trend, chloride is found to dominate other chemical species in this freshwater system. The findings of this study show evidence that NaCl road salt application can be linked with changes in groundwater composition for the UPRB.

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