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Variable-density ground-water flow and paleohydrology in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) region, southeastern New Mexico

Open-File Report 88-490

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Abstract

Variable-density groundwater flow was studied near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. An analysis of the relative magnitude of pressure-related and density-related flow-driving forces indicates that density-related gravity effects are not significant at the plant and to the west but are significant in areas to the north, northeast, and south. A regional-scale model of variable-density groundwater flow in the Culebra Dolomite member of the Rustler Formation indicates that the flow velocities are relatively rapid (10 to the minus 7th power m/sec) west of the site and extremely slow (10 to the minus 11th power m/sec) east and northeast of the site. In the transition zone between those two extremes, which includes the plant, velocities are highly variable. Sensitivity simulations indicate that the central and western parts of the region, including the plant, are fairly well isolated from the eastern and northeastern boundaries. Vertical-flux simulations indicate that as much as 25% of total inflow to the Culebra could be entering as vertical flow, with most of this flow occurring west of the plant. A simple cross-sectional model was developed to examine the flow system as it drains through time following recharge during a past glacial pluvial. This model indicates that the system as a whole drains very slowly and that it apparently could have sustained flow from purely transient drainage following recharge of the system during the Pleistocene. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Variable-density ground-water flow and paleohydrology in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) region, southeastern New Mexico
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
88-490
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1989
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Copies available from Books and Open-File Reports,
Description:
xii, 139 p. :ill. (some col.) ;28 cm.