Isotopic Evidence of Complex Ground-Water Flow at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, USA

by Zell E. Peterman, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, United States,
John S. Stuckless, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Strontium isotopes (expressed as per mill deviation from mean sea water, δ87Sr) reflect interaction between ground water and the aquifer through which it is flowing. In the Cenozoic aquifer of the Yucca Mountain region, δ87Sr values increase from north to south downgradient in the flow system. The largest δ87Sr values occur in the Amargosa Desert where ground water probably encounters alluvial basin fill derived from Precambrian rocks in the Funeral Range. Similarly, large δ87Sr values for ground water in the Paleozoic aquifer at the western end of the Spring Mountains also probably reflect an encounter with Precambrian rocks. In several wells into the volcanic rocks, apparent isotopic disequilibrium between ground water and the producing units suggests that the ground water probably integrates over a substantial part of the saturated section in attaining its strontium isotope signature.

Subject Headings: Groundwater flow | Groundwater | Radioactive wastes | Water pollution | Groundwater pollution | Sea water | Arid lands | Alluvial channels | United States | Nevada

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