This report presents the chemical analyses of ground-water samples collected in 2005 from domestic wells located in the Stillwater area of the Carson Desert (fig. 1). These data were evaluated for evidence of mixing with nearby geothermal waters (Fosbury, 2007). That study used several methods to identify mixing zones of ground and geothermal waters using trace elements, chemical equilibria, water temperature, geothermometer estimates, and statistical techniques.
In some regions, geothermal sources influence the chemical quality of ground water used for drinking water supplies. Typical geothermal contaminants include arsenic, mercury, antimony, selenium, thallium, boron, lithium, and fluoride (Webster and Nordstrom, 2003). The Environmental Protection Agency has established primary drinking water standards for these, with the exception of boron and lithium. Concentrations of some trace metals in geothermal water may exceed drinking water standards by several orders of magnitude.
Geothermal influences on water quality are likely to be localized, depending on directions of ground water flow, the relative volumes of geothermal sources and ground water originating from other sources, and depth below the surface from which water is withdrawn. It is important to understand the areal extent of shallow mixing of geothermal water because it may have adverse chemical and aesthetic effects on domestic drinking water. It would be useful to understand the areal extent of these effects.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Chemical Analyses of Ground Water in the Carson Desert near Stillwater, Churchill County, Nevada, 2005