This paper presents a generalized basic study that addresses practical needs for an understanding of the major mechanisms involved in the mineralization of groundwater in the Great Bend Prairie aquifer in south- central Kansas. This Quaternary alluvial aquifer and associated surface waters are subject to contamination by saltwater, which in some areas seeps from the deeper Permian bedrock formation into the overlying freshwater aquifer through semiconfining layers. A simplified conceptual model is adopted. It incorporates the freshwater aquifer whose bottom is comprised of a semiconfining layer through which a hydrologically minor but geochemically important saline water discharge seeps into the aquifer. A hierarchy of approximate approaches is considered to analyze the mineralization processes taking place in the aquifer. The recently developed top specified boundary layer (TSBL) approach is very convenient to use for the initial characterization of these processes, and is further adapted to characterization of head-driven seepage through semi-confining layers. TSBL calculations indicate that the seeping saline water may create two distinct new zones in the aquifer: (1) a completely saline zone (CSZ) adjacent to the semiconfining bottom of the aquifer, and (2) a transition zone (TZ) which develops between the CSZ and the freshwater zone. Some possible scenarios associated with the various mineralization patterns are analyzed and discussed.
Additional publication details
Application of the top specified boundary layer (TSBL) approximation to initial characterization of an inland aquifer mineralization: 2. Seepage of saltwater through semi-confining layers