Katelyn Kane

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Lenczewski, Melissa E.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences


Water quality--Mexico--Quintana Roo (State); Tourism--Environmental aspects--Mexico--Quintana Roo (State); Groundwater--Mexico--Quintana Roo (State); Water--Pollution--Mexico--Quintana Roo (State)


The Yucatan Peninsula is the world's second largest underwater karst cave system. The highly fractured limestone and scarce soil allows precipitation to rapidly infiltrate to the groundwater system identified as the Yucatan Aquifer. The geology of the area also prevents the accumulation of surface water; as such, groundwater is the only source of fresh water on the peninsula and can become easily contaminated due to anthropogenic activities on the surface from tourism. The state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, is economically dependent on the tourism industry. This study focuses on an assessment of eleven locations throughout the Cancun and Riveria Maya region that are impacted by tourist activities or by locals. The samples were taken from groundwater/surface interaction locations at seven cenotes, a pond outside of tourist influence, an outlet water source in the hotel zone in Cancun, a mangrove swamp also located within the Cancun Hotel Zone, and a public beach. The samples were collected just following the peak tourism seasons (early February, mid-April and late June) and once during the low tourist season (late October) of 2015. The methods employed during this study are done to test the water quality for natural and human/animal induced pollution. These methods include testing concentrations of indicator organisms, nutrients, and metals along with measuring physical and geochemical parameters, water isotope values and 16S DNA sequencing of the microbial community. The goal of the study is to determine the changes in contamination during various tourism occupancy rates. This sampling timing included two of the samples in the dry season and two during the wet season. The results of the study show that the metal and nutrient concentrations are within the range for healthy aquatic systems. The presence of pathogens found in human fecal matter and fecal indicator bacteria are the main form of contamination. The higher concentrations of these bacteria in the low tourist seasons and wet season determine that recharge from high-precipitation events is the source of most of the contamination in the aquifer at the point.


Advisors: Melissa Lenczewski.||Committee members: Phillip Carpenter; Rosa M. Leal Bautista.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations and maps.


ix, 180 pages




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