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Modeling spatial and temporal variations in temperature and salinity during stratification and overturn in Dexter Pit Lake, Tuscarora, Nevada, USA

January 1, 2006

This paper examines the seasonal cycling of temperature and salinity in Dexter pit lake in arid northern Nevada, and describes an approach for modeling the physical processes that operate in such systems. The pit lake contains about 596,200 m3 of dilute, near neutral (pHs 6.7–9) water. Profiles of temperature, conductivity, and selected element concentrations were measured almost monthly during 1999 and 2000. In winter (January–March), the pit lake was covered with ice and bottom water was warmer (5.3 °C) with higher total dissolved solids (0.298 g/L) than overlying water (3.96 °C and 0.241 g/L), suggesting inflow of warm (11.7 °C) groundwater with a higher conductivity than the lake (657 versus 126–383 μS/cm). Seasonal surface inflow due to spring snowmelt resulted in lower conductivity in the surface water (232–247 μS/cm) relative to deeper water (315–318 μS/cm). The pit lake was thermally stratified from late spring through early fall, and the water column turned over in late November (2000) or early December (1999). The pit lake is a mixture of inflowing surface water and groundwater that has subsequently been evapoconcentrated in the arid environment. Linear relationships between conductivity and major and some minor (B, Li, Sr, and U) ions indicate conservative mixing for these elements.