Mineralization of groundwater resources is a problem in south-central Kansas, due to the penetration of saline water from Permian bedrock formations into the overlying alluvial aquifer. One of the mechanisms involved in the mineralization involves small bedrock features of high permeability located in places occupied by streams and rivers in past geological eras. These geological features are termed 'paleodrainage channels'. The permeability of the overlying aquifer can be significantly smaller than that of the channel fill material. The comparatively fast migration of saline water through these channels of high permeability is associated with the transfer of minerals into the overlying freshwater aquifer. This study applies a set of boundary layer approaches to quantify the process of mineral transfer from the channels into the aquifer. The methods used in the present study provide quick estimation and evaluation of the dilution of the channel flow, as well as mineral concentration profile changes in the mineralized zone created in the overlying aquifer. More generally, the method can also be useful for the analysis and evaluation of various types of groundwater contamination in heterogeneous aquifers. The application of the method is exemplified by a complete set of calculations characterizing the possible mineralization process at a specific channel in south central Kansas. Sensitivity analyses are performed and provide information about the importance of the various parameters that affect the mineralization process. Some possible scenarios for the aquifer mineralization phenomena are described and evaluated. It is shown that the channel mineralization may create either several stream tubes of the aquifer with high mineral concentration, or many stream tubes mineralized to a lesser extent. Characteristics of these two patterns of aquifer mineralization are quantified and discussed. ?? 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.
Additional publication details
Analysis of aquifer mineralization by paleodrainage channels