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QUESTA BASELINE AND PRE-MINING GROUND-WATER QUALITY INVESTIGATION. 12. GEOCHEMICAL AND REACTIVE-TRANSPORT MODELING BASED ON TRACER INJECTION-SYNOPTIC SAMPLING STUDIES FOR THE RED RIVER, NEW MEXICO, 2001-2002 

By  James W. Ball, Robert L. Runkel, and D. Kirk Nordstrom

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5149

This report is also available as a pdf.


ABSTRACT

    Reactive-transport processes in the Red River, downstream from the town of Red River in north-central New Mexico, were simulated using the OTEQ reactive-transport model. The simulations were calibrated using physical and chemical data from synoptic studies conducted during low-flow conditions in August 2001 and during March/April 2002. Discharge over the 20-km reach from the town of Red River to the USGS streamflow-gaging station near the town of Questa ranged from 395 to 1,180 L/s during the 2001 tracer and from 234 to 421 L/s during the 2002 tracer. The pH of the Red River ranged from 7.4 to 8.5 during the 2001 tracer and from 7.1 to 8.7 during the 2002 tracer, and seep and tributary samples had pH values of 2.8 to 9.0 during the 2001 tracer and 3.8 to 7.2 during the 2002 tracer.

    Mass-loading calculations allowed identification of several specific locations where elevated concentrations of potential contaminants entered the Red River . These locations, characterized by features on the north side of the Red River that are known to be sources of low-pH water containing elevated metal and sulfate concentrations, are: the initial 2.4 km of the study reach, including Bitter Creek, the stream section from 6.2 to 7.8 km, encompassing La Bobita well and the Hansen debris fan, Sulphur Gulch, at about 10.5 km, the area near Portal Springs, from 12.2 to 12.6 km, and the largest contributors of mass loading, the 13.7 to 13.9 km stream section near Cabin Springs and the 14.7 to 17.5 km stream section from Shaft Spring to Thunder Bridge, Goathill Gulch, and Capulin Canyon.

    Speciation and saturation index calculations indicated that although solubility limits the concentration of aluminum above pH 5.0, at pH values above 7 and aluminum concentrations below 0.3 mg/L inorganic speciation and mineral solubility controls no longer dominate and aluminum-organic complexing may occur.

    The August 2001 reactive-transport simulations included dissolved iron(II) oxidation, constrained using measured concentrations of dissolved iron(II) and dissolved iron(total). Both simulations included precipitation of amorphous Al(OH)3 and hydrous ferric oxide as Fe(OH)3, and sorption of copper and zinc to the precipitated hydrous ferric oxide. Simulations revealed that hydrogen, iron, aluminum, copper, and zinc were non-conservative and that mineral precipitation can account for iron and aluminum concentrations. Copper and zinc concentrations can be accounted for by simulating their sorption to hydrous ferric oxide forming in the water column of the Red River , although hydrous manganese oxides also may be important sorption substrates.

   

CONTENTS

Contents

Figures

Tables

Conversion Factors

Abbreviations used in this Report 

Abstract 

Introduction 

    Purpose and Scope 

    Physical Setting 

    Climate and Vegetation 

    Hydrogeology 

    Surface Water

    Mining History

    Acknowledgments

Methods 

    Sampling Locations 

    Measurement of Onsite Parameters

    Water-Quality Parameters

    Analytical Methods and Quality Control

Mass Loading for the August 2001 Tracer Study

    Sulfate

    Fluoride

    Aluminum

    Manganese

    Iron

    Copper

    Zinc

    Identifying Sources of Mass-Loading

        Identifying Sources Using Element Ratios

        Identifying Sources Using Mixing Curves

    Summary of Ground-water and Surface-water Sources of Mass Loading

Aluminum Speciation Modeling

    Speciation and Saturation Indices

    Trends in Aluminum Speciation and Saturation Indices

Reactive-Transport Modeling

    Conceptual Model and Governing Transport Equations

    Reaches

    Simulated Solutes and Sorbents

    Lateral Inflow Concentrations

    Upstream Boundary Conditions

    Streamflow Parameters

    Geochemical Parameters

    Thermodynamic Data

    Reduction-Oxidation Parameters for Iron

    Simulation Results

        Hydrogen

        Aluminum

        Iron

        Copper

        Zinc

Summary

Literature Cited


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