Ground water in unconsolidated deposits of Pleistocene age in part of the Little Arkansas River basin has been polluted by the influx of saline water. The source of the saline water generally is oil-field brine that leaked from disposal ponds on the land surface. Locally, pollution by saline water also has been caused by upwelling of oil-field brine injected under pressure into the "lost-circulation zone" of the Lower Permian Wellington Formation and, possibly, by leakage of brine from corroded or improperly cased disposal wells. Anomalously high concentrations of chloride ion in some reaches of the Little Arkansas River probably can be attributed to pollution by municipal wastes rather than from inflow of saline ground water. Hydraulic connection exists between the "lost-circulation zone" and unconsolidated deposits, as evidenced by the continuing development of sinkholes, by the continuing discharge of saline water through springs and seeps along the Arkansas River south of the Little Arkansas River basin and by changes in the chloride concentration in water pumped from wells in the "lost-circulation zone." The hydraulic head in the "lost-circulation zone" is below the base of the unconsolidated deposits, and much below the potentiometric surface of the aquifer in those deposits. Any movement of water, therefore, would be downward from the "fresh-water" aquifer to the saline "lost-circulation zone."
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Saline water in the Little Arkansas River Basin area, south-central Kansas