As arid sites in the western United States are increasingly sought for disposal of the Nation's hazardous wastes and as volumes of locally generated wastes increase, concern about the potential effect of contaminants on environmental quality is being raised. Studies at the U.S. Geological Survey's Amargosa Desert research site near Beatty, Nevada are being done to evaluate mechanisms that can affect waste isolation in an arid environment. Precipitation at the site averages about 108 mm yr-1. Results have shown that, under undisturbed conditions, the naturally stratified soils in combination with native plants are effective in limiting the potential for percolation of precipitation. Under nonvegetated waste-site conditions, data indicated the accumulation and shallow, but continued, penetration of infiltrated water, However, water potentials below the test trenches and below the 2-m depth for nonvegetated soil indicated the persistence of an upward driving force for water flow during the 5-yr test period. General trends in trench-cover subsidence suggested a positive relation with cumulative precipitation, but subsidence did not appear to have a measurable effect on the water balance. Erosion rates were inversely related to near-surface rock-fragment content. Results suggest that the ultimate fate of contaminants buried at properly managed solid-waste sites may be determined largely by the interactions among climate and the surface-cover features of the disposal facility, and how these factors change with time.
|Title||Test-trench studies in the Amargosa Desert, southern Nevada: Results and application of information to landfill covers in arid environments|
|Authors||Brian J. Andraski|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Publication Subtype||Conference Paper|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Nevada Water Science Center|