Hydrogeochemistry of sodium-bicarbonate type bedrock groundwater in the Pocheon spa area, South Korea: water-rock interaction and hydrologic mixing

Gi Tak Chae, Seong Taek Yun, Kangjoo Kim, Bernhard Mayer

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127 Citations (Scopus)


The Pocheon spa-land area, South Korea occurs in a topographically steep, fault-bounded basin and is characterized by a hydraulic upwelling flow zone of thermal water (up to 44 °C) in its central part. Hydrogeochemical and environmental isotope data for groundwater in the study area suggested the occurrence of two distinct water types, a Ca-HCO3 type and a Na-HCO3 type. The former water type is characterized by relatively high concentrations of Ca, SO4 and NO3, which show significant temporal variation indicating a strong influence by surface processes. In contrast, the Na-HCO3 type waters have high and temporally constant temperature, pH, TDS, Na, Cl, HCO3 and F, indicating the attainment of a chemical steady state with respect to the host rocks (granite and gneiss). Oxygen, hydrogen and tritium isotope data also indicate the differences in hydrologic conditions between the two groups: the relatively lower δ18O, δD and tritium values for Na-HCO3 type waters suggest that they recharged at higher elevations and have comparatively long mean residence times. Considering the geologic and hydrogeologic conditions of the study area, Na-HCO3 type waters possibly have evolved from Ca-HCO3 type waters. Mass balance modeling revealed that the chemistry of Na-HCO3 type water was regulated by dissolution of silicates and carbonates and concurrent ion exchange. Particularly, low Ca concentrations in Na-HCO3 water was mainly caused by cation exchange. Multivariate mixing and mass balance modeling (M3 modeling) was performed to evaluate the hydrologic mixing and mass transfer between discrete water masses occurring in the shallow peripheral part of the central spa-land area, where hydraulic upwelling occurs. Based on Q-mode factor analysis and mixing modeling using PHREEQC, an ideal mixing among three major water masses (surface water, shallow groundwater of Ca-HCO3 type, deep groundwater of Na-HCO3 type) was proposed. M3 modeling suggests that all the groundwaters in the spa area can be described as mixtures of these end-members. After mixing, the net mole transfer by geochemical reaction was less than that without mixing. Therefore, it is likely that in the hydraulic mixing zone geochemical reactions are of minor importance and, therefore, that mixing regulates the groundwater geochemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-343
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Apr 30

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The initiation of this work was financially supported by a Korea Research Foundation grant (KRF-2002-041-C00288). Additional support for the 2003-2004 regional survey to obtain hydraulic potential lines in the Pocheon area was provided by the Environmental Geosphere Research Laboratory (EGRL) of Korea University. The use of a gas source isotope ratio mass spectrometer used for stable isotope ratio determinations was supported by the Korea Basic Science Research Institute (KBSI). We thank two journal reviewers for providing very constructive and thoughtful comments on the manuscript; their comments significantly improved this paper.


  • Hydrochemical modeling
  • Hydrogeochemistry
  • Hydrologic mixing
  • Pocheon spa-land area, Korea
  • Thermal groundwater
  • Water-rock interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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