Sulfate concentrations in ground water from the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer of southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois increase up to hundreds of times where the aquifer is confined beneath the Maquoketa Shale. There is no sulfate source in the aquifer or overlying rocks except for minor amounts of finely disseminated pyrite. Coinciding with increasing sulfate concentrations, δ34S of the dissolved sulfate increases from less than -5‰ in the unconfined part of the aquifer to a nearly constant value of +20‰ where the aquifer is confined and where sulfate reduction is minimal. The most likely source for this isotopically heavy sulfate is ground water associated with Silurian evaporites under Lake Michigan. It is uncertain if the sulfate-rich water was emplaced in pulses or mostly during the last glaciation.

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