This report, prepared in cooperation with El Paso Water Utilities, presents the results of an investigation to determine the chemistry and age of ground water on the southwestern side of the Hueco Bolson. The radioactive isotope carbon-14 was used to estimate the length of time that water from wells has been isolated from the atmosphere, which is the modern carbon-14 reservoir.
Nine wells on the southwestern side of the Hueco Bolson were sampled for analysis of common constituents, nutrients, total organic carbon, trace elements, stable isotopes, and radioactive isotopes. Dissolved-solids concentrations in water from the wells sampled ranged from 269 to 2,630 milligrams per liter. Sodium concentrations generally increased linearly with chloride concentrations, possibly indicating mixing of dilute recharge water with sodium chloride brine. Concentrations of nutrients and trace elements generally were small. The deuterium and oxygen-18 composition in all samples except those from wells adjacent to the Rio Grande indicates that infiltration of precipitation is the main source of water to these wells and that evaporation has not affected the isotopic composition of the water. The source of water from wells adjacent to the Rio Grande is probably not the same source as the water from wells adjacent to the Franklin Mountains. The calculated apparent carbon- 14 ages ranged from 12,100 to 25,500 years.
Abstract from Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4237
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