Long-term average deep-percolation rates of water from precipitation on the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site in semiarid south-central Washington, as estimated by a chloride mass-balance method, range from 0.008 to 0.30 mm/yr (millimeters per year) at nine locations covered by a variety of fine-grain soils and vegetated with sagebrush and other deep-rooted plants plus sparse shallow-rooted grasses. Deep-percolation rates estimated using a chlorine-36 bomb-pulse method at three of the nine locations range from 2.1 to 3.4 mm/yr. Because the mass-balance method may underestimate percolation rates and the bomb-pulse method probably overestimates percolation rates, estimates by the two methods probably bracket actual rates. These estimates, as well as estimates by previous investigators who used different methods, are a small fraction of mean annual precipitation, which ranges from about 160 to 210 mm/yr at the different test locations. Estimates by the mass-balance method at four locations in an area that is vegetated only with sparse shallow-rooted grasses range from 0.39 to 2.0 mm/yr. Chlorine-36 data at one location in this area were sufficient only to determine that the upper limit of deep percolation is more than 5.1 mm/yr. Although estimates for locations in this area are larger than the estimates for locations with deep-rooted plants, they are at the lower end of the range of estimates for this area made by previous investigators.
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Using chloride and chlorine-36 as soil-water tracers to estimate deep percolation at selected locations on the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford site, Washington
U.S. Geological Survey ;
U.S.G.S. Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],