Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. V. Krishnamurthy

Second Advisor

Dr. W. Straw

Third Advisor

Dr. D. Hampton

Fourth Advisor

Dr. C. Rutland


The Cork Street landfill in the City of Kalamazoo is unlined and constructed in glacial drift material. Although water quality in some of the landfill monitoring wells is poor, the degree of the landfill’s influence to groundwater, wetlands and Davis Creek located downgradient of the landfill is unknown. The objective of this study is to evaluate the degree of the landfill’s impact in this region through hydrologic and stable isotope analysis.

Site characterization using geophysical surveys and specific conductance measurements indicates highly conductive shallow groundwater probably attributable to groundwater contamination. Hydrologic evaluation of this region shows that groundwater flows towards the creek with a strong upward gradient. A hydrologic budget for the wetlands using both a water budget and hydrogen isotope mass balance shows that the wetlands and the entire site is dominated by groundwater discharge conditions.

As part of this study, a new technique was developed to measure dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in water samples. The technique is capable of DIC extraction efficiency of 99 + 1% and a reproducible carbon isotope measurements of better than 0.01%. Measurements of stable isotopes of hydrogen and carbon in landfill gases along with DIC measurements in water samples were used to evaluate DIC production in the landfill and to assess the landfill’s influence in the study area.

Analysis of methane and carbon dioxide in landfill gases suggests that about 60% of the carbon dioxide from methane production is dissolved in the water in the landfill. This landfill-influenced water with a unique carbon isotopic signature was detected in water samples down gradient of the landfill and proved that the landfill was influencing the groundwater and wetlands prior to discharging into Davis Creek.

Application of mass balance calculations to the carbon isotope results verifies that groundwater and surface water discharging into Davis Creek from the landfill side contained between 18 and 90 % landfill-derived water. The groundwater to the east of the creek showed no evidence of landfill influence. Based on the present study, it is believed that the stream is the farthest down gradient location of the landfill’s impact to surface and groundwater at the site.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access