Hydrochemical Characterization of Saline Aquifers of the Texas Gulf Coast Used for Disposal of Industrial Waste

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Disposal of toxic chemical wastes into geologic formations in the deep subsurface and the number of disposal wells used have increased sharply during the last 30 years. In Texas, permits for more than 200 waste disposal wells, which accept approximately 16 percent of the chemical wastes generated in the United States, were issued by the Texas Department of Water Resources (TDWR) during this period (Knape, 1984). Most waste disposal wells use porous, saline sandstone aquifers along the Texas Gulf Coast (fig. 1). Simultaneously, fresh groundwater is recovered from shallower, updip sections of these aquifers. Therefore, integrity of disposal zones is of importance both on a statewide and on a nationwide level.

Waste injected into subsurface formations may react with formation fluid or formation material, depending on the chemical and physical nature of the phases involved. Aquifer material may dissolve or mineral matter may precipitate, thus changing original compositions of disposal zones. It is desirable to predict these changes to assure successful operation of injection practices. To satisfactorily evaluate the suitability of deep-well injection into Gulf Coast formations, hydrochemical and hydrogeological parameters of these aquifers are currently under study by the Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin. This report represents the first stage of the characterization of saline aquifers in the Gulf Coast that are used for industrial waste disposal and summarizes geochemical parameters of disposal zones.


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