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Delineation of areas having elevated electrical conductivity, orientation and characterization of bedrock fractures, and occurrence of groundwater discharge to surface water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields Superfu

July 16, 2015

During October 2012 through March 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4, Superfund Section, conducted borehole geophysical logging, surface geophysical surveys, and water-quality profiling in selected wells and areas to characterize or delineate the extent of elevated subsurface electrical conductivity at the EPA Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields Superfund site near McCormick, South Carolina. Elevated electrical conductivity measured at the site may be related to native rock materials, waste rock disposal areas used in past operations, and (or) groundwater having elevated dissolved solids (primarily metals and major ions) related to waste migration. Five shallow screened wells and four open-borehole bedrock wells were logged by using a suite of borehole tools, and downhole water-quality profiles were recorded in two additional wells. Well depths ranged from about 26 to 300 feet below land surface. Surface geophysical surveys based on frequency-domain electromagnetic and distributed temperature sensing (DTS) techniques were used to identify areas of elevated electrical conductivity (Earth materials and groundwater) and potential high dissolved solids in groundwater and surface water on land and in areas along the northern unnamed tributary at the site.

Results from the electromagnetic-induction logging of four selected wells near the Main Pit and one well located about 800 feet southeast of the Main Pit lake indicate that elevated electrical conductivity extends to a depth of about 110 feet below land surface. Groundwater-quality properties recorded in eight selected wells were highly variable, suggesting a broad spectrum of geochemical conditions and contaminant concentrations within the groundwater system. Ranges of field water-quality properties recorded from water-profiling of groundwater in all wells logged were as follows: pH, 3.1 to 9.2; specific conductance, 48 to 5,300 microsiemens per centimeter; dissolved oxygen, 0.2 to 4.4 milligrams per liter; and water temperature, 17.0 to 18.0 degrees Celsius. The highest specific conductance and lowest pH measurements were made in boreholes located between the Main Pit lake and the northern unnamed tributary. Conceptually, these wells may intercept elevated dissolved solids in groundwater leaking from the Main Pit lake along a flow path that discharges into the unnamed tributary to the north. Results from surface geophysical electromagnetic and fiber-optics surveys confirm areas of focused discharge of groundwater near the Main Pit lake along the northern unnamed tributary. The frequency-domain surface electromagnetic surveys also identified an area with higher levels of elevated electrical conductivity located northwest of the former Rainsford Pit area.

Bedrock properties were characterized from borehole geophysical logs collected from three open-borehole bedrock wells. The mean strike azimuth of the borehole foliation data measured in bedrock well IR-1 was 221° (N. 41° E.), and the mean dip angle was 78° to the northwest. Dominant strike azimuth orientations of primary fractures measured in three boreholes were from 210° to 250° (N. 30° E. to N. 70° E.) with a mean dip of 68° northwest. Transmissivity estimates interpreted from the heat-pulse flowmeter data from bedrock well IR-1 were about 69 feet squared per day, and the radius of influence was estimated at about 640 feet.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Delineation of areas having elevated electrical conductivity, orientation and characterization of bedrock fractures, and occurrence of groundwater discharge to surface water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields Superfu
DOI 10.3133/sir20155084
Authors Melinda J. Chapman, Brad A. Huffman, Kristen Bukowski McSwain
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2015-5084
Index ID sir20155084
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization North Carolina Water Science Center