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Hydrologic environment of the Silurian salt deposits in parts of Michigan, Ohio, and New York

January 1, 1994

The aggregate thickness of evaporites (salt, gypsum, and anhydrite) in the Silurian Salina sequence in Michigan exceeds 1200 feet in areas near the periphery of the Michigan basin, where the salt beds are less than 3000 feet below land surface. In northeast Ohio the aggregate thickness of salt beds is as much as 200 feet in places, and in western New York it is more than 500 feet, where th beds are less than 3000 feet deep.

The salt-bearing rocks dip regionally on the order of 50 feet per mile; those in Michigan dip toward the center of the Michigan basin, and those in Ohio and New York, in the Appalachian basin, dip generally southward. The rocks in both basins thicken downdip. Minor folds and faults occur in the salt-bearing rocks in all three states. Some of this defrmation has been attenuated or absorbed bo the salt beds.

Occuring near the middle of thick sedimentary sequences, the salt beds are bounded aboe and below by beds containing water having dissolved-solids concentrations several times that seawter. The brines occur commonly in discrete zones of high permeability at specific places in the stratigraphic sequence.

In northeast Ohio two prominent brine zones are recognized by the driller, the Devonian Oriskany Sandstone, or 'first water' zone, above the Salina Formation, and the Newburg or 'second water' zone below the Salina. In each aquifer there is a vertical component of hydraulic head, but little brine probably moves through the salt beds because their permeability is extremely low. Also, ther is little evidence of dissolution of the salt in areas distant from the outcrop, suggesting that if brine does move through the salt, movement is at a slow enough rate so that, in combination with the saturated or near-saturated condition of the water, it precludes significant dissolution. Principal brine movement is probably in the permeable zones in the direction of the hydraulic gradient.

Two areas in Michigan and one area each in Ohio and New York appear suitable for additional investigation of salt beds for purposes radioactive waste disposal. One of the Michigan areas is in the northern part of the southern peninsula, in Presque Isle and Alpena Counties; the other is in the southern part of the southern peninsula, in Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair Counties (fig. 3). In northeast Ohio the area that appears to be suitable for investigation includes most of the eastern half of Lake County and extends eastward into Ashtabula County and southward into Geauga County. In western New York conditions may warrant additional investigation in Schuyler, Tompkins, and western Cortland Counties.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1978
Title Hydrologic environment of the Silurian salt deposits in parts of Michigan, Ohio, and New York
DOI 10.3133/ofr78684
Authors Stanley E. Norris
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 78-684
Index ID ofr78684
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Ohio Water Science Center