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Interpretation of storage and retrieval major-ion chemistry, with emphasis on significant sulfate and sodium concentrations in the White River watershed, northwestern Nebraska, United States

Jon C. Atkinson
Interpretation of storage and retrieval major-ion chemistry, with emphasis on significant sulfate and sodium concentrations in the White River watershed, northwestern Nebraska, United States
Environmental Geosciences (June 2019) 26 (2): 51-71

Abstract

The White River watershed encompasses four major tributaries within a basin area of 130 km (super 2) (1595 mi (super 2) ) in extreme northwestern Nebraska. An examination of the historical (1968-1975) aqueous geochemistry data (major cations and anions and total dissolved solids [TDS]) supplied by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality revealed that the TDS is relatively low (130-1200 mg/L), excluding Big Cottonwood Creek (BCC), with a basin-wide median of 340 mg/L. The median TDS for the BCC is 1880 mg/L (brackish); the median values for Na and SO (sub 4) are 385 and 897 mg/L, respectively. Mineralization in the river increases steadily downstream. The scatter plots of meq/L concentrations for selected anions and cations reveal the impact of silicate mineral (e.g., feldspar) weathering on the aqueous geochemistry throughout the watershed. These ubiquitous feldspar minerals most likely originated along the eastern slope of the Front Range during the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary (Laramide orogeny). Twenty-nine samples for three White River stations and the BCC exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency secondary maximum contaminant levels for TDS and/or SO (sub 4) in drinking water supplies at 500 and 250 mg/L, respectively. Uncontaminated streams that drain marine shales (typically containing S-bearing minerals) nationwide typically show an excess of Na and a deficiency of Ca and Mg. This is due in part to cation exchange of Ca in solution for Na on clay minerals. Consequently, the weathering of shale terrains commonly produces an Na-SO (sub 4) brackish surface-water runoff as is the case with BCC, which drains the Pierre Shale hills.


ISSN: 1075-9565
EISSN: 1526-0984
Serial Title: Environmental Geosciences
Serial Volume: 26
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Interpretation of storage and retrieval major-ion chemistry, with emphasis on significant sulfate and sodium concentrations in the White River watershed, northwestern Nebraska, United States
Author(s): Atkinson, Jon C.
Affiliation: Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Lincoln, NE, United States
Pages: 51-71
Published: 20190615
Text Language: English
Publisher: American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Division of Environmental Geosciences, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 63
Accession Number: 2019-092946
Categories: HydrogeologyEnvironmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. strat. col., 11 tables, sketch map
N42°30'00" - N43°00'00", W104°00'00" - W103°00'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 2019
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