Yucca Mountain, a ridge of Miocene volcanic rocks in southwest Nevada, is being characterized as a site for a potential high-level radioactive waste repository. One issue of concern for the future performance of the potential repository is the movement of water in and around the potential repository horizon. Past water movement in this unsaturated zone is indicated by fluid inclusions trapped in calcite coatings on fracture footwall surfaces and in some lithophysal cavities. Some of the fluid inclusions have homogenization temperatures above the present-day geotherm (J.F. Whelan, written communication), so determining the ages of the calcite associated with those fluid inclusions is important in understanding the thermal history of the potential repository site. Calcite ages have been constrained by uranium-lead dating of silica polymorphs (opal and chalcedony) that are present in most coatings. The opal and chalcedony ages indicate that deposition of the calcite and opal coatings in the welded part of the Topopah Spring Tuff (TSw hydrogeologic unit) spanned nearly the entire history of the 12.8-million-year-old rock mass at fairly uniform overall long-term rates of deposition (within a factor of five). Constraining the age of a layer of calcite associated with specific fluid inclusions is complicated. Calcite is commonly bladed with complex textural relations, and datable opal or chalcedony may be millions of years older or younger than the calcite layer or may be absent from the coating entirely. Therefore, a more direct method of dating the calcite is presented in this paper by developing a model for strontium evolution in pore water in the TSw as recorded by the strontium coprecipitated with calcium in the calcite. Although the water that precipitated the calcite in fractures and cavities may not have been in local isotopic equilibrium with the pore water, the strontium isotope composition of all water in the TSw is primarily controlled by water-rock interaction in the overlying nonwelded and essentially unfractured Paintbrush Group tuffs (PTn). The method of dating secondary minerals from known strontium evolution rates in rocks cannot be used in this study because it assumes the water that deposited the minerals was in isotopic equilibrium with the rock, which is not the case for the pore water in the TSw. Therefore, the evolution of the strontium isotope composition of the water that deposited the calcite, as recorded by the strontium coprecipitated with calcium in the calcite, was used to develop a model for determining the age of the calcite.
|Publication Subtype||Federal Government Series|
|Title||Strontium isotope evolution of pore water and calcite in the Topopah Spring Tuff, Yucca Mountain, Nevada|
|Series title||Technical Report|
|Publisher||Office of Scientific and Technical Information|
|Contributing office(s)||Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Yucca Mountain|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|