Origins of secondary silica within Yucca Mountain, Nye County, southwestern Nevada

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The accuracy of predictions of the hydrologic response of Yucca Mountain to future climate depends largely on how well relations between past climate and hydrology can be resolved. To advance this reconstruction, secondary minerals in and near Yucca Mountain, deposited by ground waters that originated both as surficial recharge at Yucca Mountain and from regional aquifers, are being studied to determine past ground-water sources and chemistries. Preliminary data on stable oxygen isotopes indicate that, although silica (opal, quartz, and chalcedony) and calcite and have formed in similar settings and from somewhat similar fluids, the authors have found no compelling evidence ... continued below

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19 p.

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Moscati, R. J. & Whelan, J. F. September 1, 1996.

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Description

The accuracy of predictions of the hydrologic response of Yucca Mountain to future climate depends largely on how well relations between past climate and hydrology can be resolved. To advance this reconstruction, secondary minerals in and near Yucca Mountain, deposited by ground waters that originated both as surficial recharge at Yucca Mountain and from regional aquifers, are being studied to determine past ground-water sources and chemistries. Preliminary data on stable oxygen isotopes indicate that, although silica (opal, quartz, and chalcedony) and calcite and have formed in similar settings and from somewhat similar fluids, the authors have found no compelling evidence of coprecipitation or formation from identical fluids. If verified by further analyses, this precludes the use of silica-calcite mineral pairs for precise geothermometry. The preliminary data also indicate that opal and calcite occurrences in pedogenic and unsaturated-zone settings are invariably compatible with formation under modern ambient surface or subsurface temperatures. Silica and calcite stable-isotope studies are being integrated with soil geochemical modeling. This modeling will define the soil geochemical condition (climate) leading to opal or calcite deposition and to the transfer functions that may apply at the meteorologic soil unsaturated-zone interfaces. Additional study of pedogenic and unsaturated-zone silica is needed to support these models. The hypothesis that the transformation of vapor-phase tridymite to quartz requires saturated conditions is being tested through stable oxygen-isotope studies of lithophysal tridymite/quartz mixtures. Should this hypothesis be verified, mineralogic analysis by X-ray diffraction theoretically would permit reconstruction of past maximum water-table elevations.

Physical Description

19 p.

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U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services, Box 25286, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225 (United States); OSTI as DE96014511

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1996

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  • Other: DE96014511
  • Report No.: USGS-OFR--95-289
  • Grant Number: AI08-92NV10874
  • DOI: 10.2172/373821 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 373821
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc681426

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  • September 1, 1996

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  • July 25, 2015, 2:20 a.m.

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  • Oct. 3, 2017, 6:21 p.m.

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Moscati, R. J. & Whelan, J. F. Origins of secondary silica within Yucca Mountain, Nye County, southwestern Nevada, report, September 1, 1996; Denver, Colorado. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc681426/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.