Characterization Study of the Ogallala Aquifer, Northwest Texas

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The Ogallala aquifer, which is the main water supply in the High Plains of Texas, is being severely depleted by extensive pumpage for irrigation. The aquifer overlies the Permian evaporites that are being considered as a potential repository for the disposal of high-level nuclear wastes. Potential contamination of the aquifer by these wastes and further depletion of the limited water resources are major concerns of the people in the area.

The purpose of this work is to develop a general hydrogeologic characterization of the aquifer that will serve as a firm basis for accurate evaluation of aquifer recharge mechanisms relevant to problems stemming from accidental spills of radionuclides at the land surface and possible interactions of the radionuclides with deeper hydrologic units. Aquifer hydraulics relevant to problems that may be encountered in shaft construction were studied as well.

The existing geologic, hydrologic, geochemical, and isotopic data are integrated into a regional hydrogeologic model for water and solutes. The model enables (1) an understanding of recharge/discharge relationships, ages of water, and rock-water interactions, and (2) the tracing of cross-formational flow between the Ogallala and the underlying aquifers.

This report presents preliminary conclusions of research conducted from August 1984 through August 1985.


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