Uranium and other chemical constituents associated with breccia pipe deposits occur naturally in soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water, and from the weathering and leaching of ore deposits. Mining of breccia pipes has the potential to enhance release of chemical constituents (such as uranium and associated trace elements) into the environment, which can then expose soil, water and biological resources to mining-related contaminants.
Determining the relative contribution of radiochemical and chemical constituents in regional and local groundwater resources from mining activities is problematic and challenging without an understanding of background concentrations. The potential for increased exposure resulting from mining activities has not been well characterized in the Grand Canyon region because regional/background concentrations of uranium and other trace elements in groundwater are largely unknown and there is a general lack of understanding regarding the local and regional groundwater flow systems.
Water movement through breccia pipes and associated ring fractures during natural pre-mining conditions and once the pipe is opened for mining is not well understood.
Questions this study could help answer
Determine how mining-related chemical constituents move through the environment to help identify potential impacts to groundwater resources.
Task 5a: Compile/evaluate existing and newly collected monitoring data from various agencies/sources Task 5b: Collect/analyze water and sediment samples from streams and springs Task 8a: Continue evaluation/analysis of Uranium Activity Ratio analysis Task 9: Drill and develop groundwater monitoring wells
Beisner, K.R., Solder, J.E., Tillman, F.D., Anderson, J.R., Antweiler, R.C., 2020, Geochemical characterization of groundwater evolution south of Grand Canyon, Arizona (USA), Hydrogeology Journal, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-020-02192-0
Arizona and New Mexico Water Science Centers
Arizona Water Science Center
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