Migration of a nearly 80-year old saltwater plume in the High Plains Aquifer, Kansas

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Authors:Whittemore, Donald O.
Author Affiliations:Primary:
Kansas Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS, United States
Volume Title:Geological Society of America, 2011 annual meeting
Source:Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, 43(5), p.111; Geological Society of America, 2011 annual meeting, Minneapolis, MN, Oct. 9-12, 2011. Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States. ISSN: 0016-7592
Publication Date:2011
Note:In English
Summary:The disposal of oil-field brine (mean chloride concentration 96,000 mg/L) in over 200 surface ponds in a 40 km2 area near Burrton, south-central Kansas, during the 1930s and 1940s created a large saltwater plume in the High Plains Aquifer. Monitoring of the saltwater contamination from the Burrton oil field began in 1939 and has continued to the present. Over 130 monitoring and supply wells at depths of 5-87 m are now sampled for chloride concentration in a 120 km2 area surrounding and including the plume. Three-dimensional images of the plume for the last 30 years show the migration of the saline water downward and in the direction of ground-water flow as would be expected for fluid denser than the fresh background water. Silt and clay lenses within the sand and gravel aquifer affect relative rates of vertical and lateral migration of the saline water. The highest chloride concentration now encountered in the monitoring wells is about 2,000 mg/L. Although chloride concentration at different locations and depths has increased or decreased substantially, no statistically significant trend exists over 1980-2010 for the mean of annual measurements from 48 observation wells within and immediately adjacent to the plume. This is expected for the chloride mass, which is conserved within the historical plume extent. The current extent of the 500 mg/L isosurface for chloride concentration is approximately 10.5 km and 6.4 km in the longitudinal and transverse directions, respectively, and 70 m deep. This is larger than the current 6-km longitudinal and 1.4-km transverse extent of the well-studied, Cape Cod sewage wastewater plume. The Kansas plume front has advanced about 2-4 km from 1980 to 2010, depending on the location, and is now approximately 2-3 km from the westernmost portion of a large well field supplying much of the municipal supply of Wichita. Three-dimensional images reveal the location and depth where monitoring of the plume nose is needed for better determination of when the plume will enter the well field.
Subjects:Brines; Chloride ion; Chlorine; Contaminant plumes; Halogens; Movement; Oil and gas fields; Pollution; Salt water; Three-dimensional models; Waste water; Water wells; Barnstable County Massachusetts; Cape Cod; Harvey County Kansas; High Plains Aquifer; Kansas; Massachusetts; United States; Burton Field; Burton Kansas; South-central Kansas
Coordinates:N375500 N381000 W0971000 W0974300
Record ID:2013020385
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2018 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
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