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Natural heat storage in a brine-filled solar pond in the Tully Valley of central New York

January 7, 2014

The Tully Valley, located in southern Onondaga County, New York, has a long history of unusual natural hydrogeologic phenomena including mudboils (Kappel, 2009), landslides (Tamulonis and others, 2009; Pair and others, 2000), landsurface subsidence (Hackett and others, 2009; Kappel, 2009), and a brine-filled sinkhole or “Solar pond” (fig. 1), which is documented in this report. A solar pond is a pool of salty water (brine) which stores the sun’s energy in the form of heat. The saltwater naturally forms distinct layers with increasing density between transitional zones (haloclines) of rapidly changing specific conductance with depth. In a typical solar pond, the top layer has a low salt content and is often times referred to as the upper convective zone (Lu and others, 2002). The bottom layer is a concentrated brine that is either convective or temperature stratified dependent on the surrounding environment. Solar insolation is absorbed and stored in the lower, denser brine while the overlying halocline acts as an insulating layer and prevents heat from moving upwards from the lower zone (Lu and others, 2002). In the case of the Tully Valley solar pond, water within the pond can be over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) in late summer and early fall. The purpose of this report is to summarize observations at the Tully Valley brine-filled sinkhole and provide supplemental climate data which might affect the pond salinity gradients insolation (solar energy).

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Natural heat storage in a brine-filled solar pond in the Tully Valley of central New York
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131266
Authors Brett Hayhurst, William M. Kappel
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2013-1266
Index ID ofr20131266
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center

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