Water-Chemistry Evolution and Modeling of Radionuclide Sorption and Cation Exchange during Inundation of Frenchman Flat Playa
Description: Atmospheric tests and other experiments with nuclear materials were conducted on the Frenchman Flat playa at the Nevada National Security Site, Nye County, Nevada; residual radionuclides are known to exist in Frenchman Flat playa soils. Although the playa is typically dry, extended periods of winter precipitation or large single-event rainstorms can inundate the playa. When Frenchman Flat playa is inundated, residual radionuclides on the typically dry playa surface may become submerged, allowing water-soil interactions that could provide a mechanism for transport of radionuclides away from known areas of contamination. The potential for radionuclide transport by occasional inundation of the Frenchman Flat playa was examined using geographic information systems and satellite imagery to delineate the timing and areal extent of inundation; collecting water samples during inundation and analyzing them for chemical and isotopic content; characterizing suspended/precipitated materials and archived soil samples; modeling water-soil geochemical reactions; and modeling the mobility of select radionuclides under aqueous conditions. The physical transport of radionuclides by water was not evaluated in this study. Frenchman Flat playa was inundated with precipitation during two consecutive winters in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Inundation allowed for collection of multiple water samples through time as the areal extent of inundation changed and ultimately receded. During these two winters, precipitation records from a weather station in Frenchman Flat (Well 5b) provided information that was used in combination with geographic information systems, Landsat imagery, and image processing techniques to identify and quantify the areal extent of inundation. After inundation, water on the playa disappeared quickly, for example, between January 25, 2011 and February 10, 2011, a period of 16 days, 92 percent of the areal extent of inundation receded (2,062,800 m2). Water sampling provided valuable information about chemical processes occurring during inundation as the water disappeared. Important observations from water-chemistry analyses included: 1) total ...
Date: August 1, 2013
Creator: Hershey, Ronald; Cablk, Mary; LeFebre, Karen; Fenstermaker, Lynn & Decker, David
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department