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Isotopic compositions and sources of nitrate in ground water from western Salt River Valley, Arizona

January 1, 1994

Isotopic and chemical compositions of ground water from western Salt River Valley near Phoenix, Arizona, were used to develop identification tech- niques for sources of nitrate in ground water. Four possible sources of nitrate were studied: dairies and feedlots, sewage-treatment plants, agricultural activities, and natural source. End members that represent these sources were analyzed for a variety of chemical and isotopic constituents; contents of the end-member and the ground water were compared to identify nitrate from these sources. Nitrate from dairies and feedlots was identified by delta 15N values higher than +9.0 per mil. Nitrate from sewage treatment plants was identified by some chemical constituents and values of delta 15N, delta 34S, delta 7Li, and delta 11B that were lighter than the values determined for ground water not affected by sewage-treatment plants. Nitrate from agricultural activities was identified by delta 15N, 3H, and delta 34S compositions. Natural nitrate derived from decomposing plants and accumulated by biological fixation was identified by delta 15N values that range between +2 and +8 per mil. In addition to identifying nitrate sources, some chemical and isotopic charabteristics of ground water were determined on the basis of data collected during this study. Concentrations of major ions, lithium, and boron and delta 7Li, delta 11B, 3H, delta D, and delta 18O data identify ground water in different geographic regions in the study area. These differences probably are related to different sources of ground water, geochemical processes, or geologic deposits. The Luke salt body and a geothermal anomaly alter the chemical and isotopic content of some ground water.

Publication Year 1994
Title Isotopic compositions and sources of nitrate in ground water from western Salt River Valley, Arizona
DOI 10.3133/wri944063
Authors D.J. Gellenbeck
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 94-4063
Index ID wri944063
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse