Surface and ground waters, collected over a period of three years from the Osamu Utsumi uranium mine and the Morro do Ferro thorium/rare-earth element (Th/REE) deposits, were analyzed and interpreted to identify the major hydrogeochemical processes. These results provided information on the current geochemical evolution of ground waters for two study sites within the Poços de Caldas Natural Analogue Project.
The ground waters are a K–Fe–SO4–F type, a highly unusual composition related to intense weathering of a hydrothermally altered and mineralized complex of phonolites. Tritium and stable isotope data indicate that ground waters are of meteoric origin and are not affected significantly by evaporation or water–rock interactions. Recharging ground waters at both study sites demonstrate water of less than about 35 years in age, whereas deeper, more evolved ground waters are below 1 TU but still contain in most cases detectable tritium. These deeper ground waters may be interpreted as being of 35 to 60 or more years in age, resulting mainly from an admixture of younger with older ground waters and/or indicating the influence of subsurface produced tritium.
Geochemical processes involving water–rock–gas interactions have been modeled using ground water compositions, mineralogic data, ion plots and computations of speciation, non-thermodynamic mass balance and thermodynamic mass transfer. The geochemical reaction models can reproduce the water chemistry and mineral occurrences and they were validated by comparing the results of thermodynamic mass transfer calculations (using the PHREEQE program, Parkhurst et al., 1980). The results from the geochemical reaction models reveal that the dominant processes are production of CO2 in the soil zone through aerobic decay of organic matter, dissolution of fluorite, calcite, K-feldspar, albite, chlorite and manganese oxides, oxidation of pyrite and sphalerite, and precipitation of ferric oxides, silica and kaolinite. Gibbsite precipitation can be modeled for the shallow (recharge) water chemistry at Morro do Ferro, consistent with known mineralogy. Recharge waters are undersaturated with respect to barite and discharging waters and deeper ground waters are saturated to supersaturated with respect to barite demonstrating a strong solubility control. Strontium isotope data demonstrate that sources other than calcium-bearing minerals are required to account for the dissolved strontium in the ground waters. These may include K-feldspar, smectite–chlorite mixed-layer clays and goyazite [SrAl3(PO4)2 (OH)5 • H2O].
|Title||Ground water chemistry and geochemical modeling of water-rock interactions at the Osamu Utsumi mine and the Morro do Ferro analogue study sites, Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais, Brazil|
|Authors||D. Kirk Nordstrom, R.H. McNutt, I. Puigdomenech, John A.T. Smellie, M. Wolf|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Geochemical Exploration|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|