The physical behavior and geologic control of radon in mountain streams

Trace Elements Investigations 619
This report concerns work done on behalf of the Division of Research of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission



Radon measurement were made in several small, turbulent mountain streams in the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah, to determine the relationship between the distribution of radon and its geologic environment.

In this area, the distribution of radon in streams can be sued to locate points where relatively large amounts of radon-bearing ground water enter the stream, although other evidence of spring activity may be lacking. These points of influence ground water are marked by abrupt increases (as much as two orders of magnitude within a distance of 50 feet) in the radon content of the stream waters.

The excess radon in the stream water is then rapidly lost to the atmosphere through stream turbulence. The rate of radon dissipation is an exponential function, of different slopes, with respect to distance of streamflow, and depend upon the rate and volume of streamflow, and the gradient and nature of the stream channel.

The higher radon concentration can be generally related to specific stratigraphic horizons in several different drainage area. Thus, lithologic units which act as the primary aquifers can be identifies. In one area, thrust faults were found to control he influx of ground water into the stream.

Estimates, based on radon concentration in stream and related spring waters, can also be made of the major increments of addition of ground water to streamflow where conventional methods such as stream gaging are not practical.

The radon in the waters studied was found to be almost completely unsupported by radium in solution.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The physical behavior and geologic control of radon in mountain streams
Series title Trace Elements Investigations
Series number 619
DOI 10.3133/tei619
Year Published 1956
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description 44 p.
Country United States
State Utah
City Ogden;Salt Lake City
Other Geospatial Wasatch Mountains
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