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Chemical composition of ground water, hydrologic properties of basin-fill material, and ground-water movement in Salt Lake Valley, Utah

December 1, 2016

The chemical composition and movement of ground water and hydrologic properties of the basin‑fill material were studied to better under‑ stand the flow system in Salt Lake Valley, Utah. Recharge sources and water‑rock interactions influence the water chemistry in the principal and shallow unconfined aquifers. Chloride concentration in water from some wells has increased from the 1950’s and 1960’s to 1992, possibly because of the infiltration of water that contains dissolved road salt and the movement of ground water with relatively high chloride concentrations from volcanic rocks in the vicinity of these wells. Hydraulic‑conductivity values determined from slug tests done on wells finished in the shallow unconfined aquifer and confining layers ranged from 0.003 to 33.4 feet per day. Transmissivity values determined for the principal aquifer from four multiple‑well aquifer tests ranged from 6,400 to 43,600 feet squared per day. Vertical hydraulic‑conductivity values estimated from these tests are from 0.01 to 1 foot per day. Water from 81 sites was analyzed for the stable‑isotope ratios of oxygen and hydrogen to determine sources of recharge and mixing of water from these sources. Water sampled from the principal aquifer in the southeastern part of the valley is isotopically similar to water in Big and Little Cottonwood Creeks. Ground water sampled from the shallow unconfined aquifer is generally enriched in oxygen‑18 and deuterium relative to other water in the valley, except for water from the Jordan River and its diversions, which are probable recharge sources. Tritium concentrations ranging from about 33 to 59 tritium units in water from the principal aquifer in the southeastern part of the valley are representative of concentrations in water that was recharged in the 1960’s.

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