Report Abstract

CHLOROFLUOROCARBON AND TRITIUM AGE DETERMINATION OF GROUND-WATER RECHARGE IN THE RYAN FLAT SUBBASIN, TRANS-PECOS TEXAS

By James R. Bartolino

A study was conducted to determine the relative influence of mountain-front infiltration in the Ryan Flat subbasin and to determine whether recent recharge (post-1940), which is of importance to water-use planning, has reached the Salt Basin aquifer, Trans-Pecos Texas. The alluvial and volcanic Salt Basin aquifer lies within a bolson, and the average depth to water in most of the subbasin is approximately 250 feet. Concentrations of the chlorofluorocarbons CFC-11, CFC-12, and CFC-113, as well as tritium, were measured in water from 10 wells in the study area. CFC-model recharge dates ranged from pre-1940 to the early 1970's. Ground water in five wells had CFC-model dates of pre-1940 or pre-1945. Ground water in two wells had dates of the mid- to late 1940's. Ground water from one well had a CFC-model recharge age of the early 1950's. Samples from the remaining two wells were most probably contaminated in some manner and are probably unreliable. CFC-model ages were calculated independently for the three chlorofluorocarbons, though the presence of volatile organic compounds affected agreement among them. Tritium activities in the nine wells for which tritium was analyzed indicated pre-1953 recharge and thus agreed approximately with the CFC-model dates.

Ground water was analyzed for selected water-quality constituents. Water from all wells met U.S. Environmental Protection Agency national primary and secondary drinking water standards for all tested constituents except fluoride in samples from three wells. Silica concentrations in water from six wells exceeded a range considered typical in natural waters.

Abstract from Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4245



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