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Identifying local and regional groundwater in basins: chemical and stable isotopic attributes of multivariate classification of hydrochemical data, the Lower Virgin River Basin, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, U.S.A

Asante, Joseph, Kreamer, David K.
Isotopes in environmental and health studies 2018 v.54 no.4 pp. 370-391
aquifers, basins, deuterium, floodplains, groundwater, groundwater flow, oxygen, potassium, rivers, sodium, springs (water), stable isotopes, sulfates, watersheds, wells, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
In the Basin and Range Province of the Southwestern U.S.A., deep carbonate groundwater has been suggested as a significant source to many overlying basin-fill alluvial aquifer systems. Notwithstanding, testing this hypothesis is limited by obtaining data from such considerable depths and complex geology. This study uses δ²H and δ¹⁸O data from springs, rivers, and wells tapping shallow basin-fill groundwater to test the hydrochemical interpretation of deep regional carbonate groundwater flow into the basin-fill aquifers. Stable isotopic and major ion attributes of hydrochemical facies suggest basin-fill alluvial groundwater of the Lower Virgin River Basin is a mixture of precipitation recharge within the Lower Virgin River Basin or the Clover and Escalante Desert Basin northwards, and the deep carbonate flow. The data support the conclusions that in the Lower Virgin River Basin, deep carbonate groundwater is an important source to the alluvial aquifer system and likely accounts for approximately 50% of the alluvial aquifer groundwater. Na⁺, K⁺, and SO₄²– increase in the basin-fill alluvial groundwaters outside the Virgin River floodplain appears to be related with upwelling of deep regional groundwater, and indicating that the chemical character of the basin-fill alluvial groundwaters are related to the deeper flow systems.