Radiogenic and Stable Isotope and Hydrogeochemical Investigation of Groundwater, Pajarito Plateau and Surrounding Areas, New Mexico

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From October 2004 through February 2006, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico Environment Department-Department of Energy Oversight Bureau, and the United States Geological Survey conducted a hydrochemical investigation. The purpose of the investigation was to evaluate groundwater flow paths and determine groundwater ages using tritium/helium-3 and carbon-14 along with aqueous inorganic chemistry. Knowledge of groundwater age and flow paths provides a technical basis for selecting wells and springs for monitoring. Groundwater dating is also relevant to groundwater resource management, including aquifer sustainability, especially during periods of long-term drought. At Los Alamos, New Mexico, groundwater is either modern (post-1943), submodern ... continued below

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Longmire, Patrick; Dale, Michael; Counce, Dale; Manning, Andrew; Larson, Toti; Granzow, Kim et al. July 15, 2007.

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Description

From October 2004 through February 2006, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico Environment Department-Department of Energy Oversight Bureau, and the United States Geological Survey conducted a hydrochemical investigation. The purpose of the investigation was to evaluate groundwater flow paths and determine groundwater ages using tritium/helium-3 and carbon-14 along with aqueous inorganic chemistry. Knowledge of groundwater age and flow paths provides a technical basis for selecting wells and springs for monitoring. Groundwater dating is also relevant to groundwater resource management, including aquifer sustainability, especially during periods of long-term drought. At Los Alamos, New Mexico, groundwater is either modern (post-1943), submodern (pre-1943), or mixed (containing both pre- and post-1943 components). The regional aquifer primarily consists of submodern groundwater. Mixed-age groundwater results from initial infiltration of surface water, followed by mixing with perched alluvial and intermediate-depth groundwater and the regional aquifer. No groundwater investigation is complete without using tritium/helium-3 and carbon-14 dating methods to quantify amounts of modern, mixed, and/or submodern components present in samples. Computer models of groundwater flow and transport at Los Alamos should be calibrated to groundwater ages for perched intermediate zones and the regional aquifer determined from this investigation. Results of this study clearly demonstrate the occurrence of multiple flow paths and groundwater ages occurring within the Sierra de los Valles, beneath the Pajarito Plateau, and at the White Rock Canyon springs. Localized groundwater recharge occurs within several canyons dissecting the Pajarito Plateau. Perched intermediate-depth groundwater and the regional aquifer beneath Pueblo Canyon, Los Alamos Canyon, Sandia Canyon, Mortandad Canyon, Pajarito Canyon, and Canon de Valle contain a modern component. This modern component consists of tritium, nitrate, perchlorate, chromate, boron, uranium, and/or high explosive compounds. It is very unlikely that there is only one transport or travel time, ranging from 25 to 62 years, for these conservative chemicals migrating from surface water to the regional water table. Lengths of groundwater flow paths vary within deep saturated zones containing variable concentrations of tritium. The 4-series springs discharging within White Rock Canyon contain a modern component of groundwater, primarily tritium. Average groundwater ages for the regional aquifer beneath the Pajarito Plateau varied from 565 to 10,817 years, based on unadjusted carbon-14 measurements.

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  • Report No.: LA-14333
  • Grant Number: DE-AC52-06NA25396
  • DOI: 10.2172/912635 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 912635
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc879965

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  • July 15, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 6:13 p.m.

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Longmire, Patrick; Dale, Michael; Counce, Dale; Manning, Andrew; Larson, Toti; Granzow, Kim et al. Radiogenic and Stable Isotope and Hydrogeochemical Investigation of Groundwater, Pajarito Plateau and Surrounding Areas, New Mexico, report, July 15, 2007; Los Alamos, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc879965/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.