Date of Award:

1997

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Geology

Advisor/Chair:

Peter T. Kolesar

Abstract

The headwaters of the Bear River in the Uinta Mountains of Utah provide a good setting in which to examine the influence of geological materials on stream chemistry. Ionic contributions to the stream-water from soils, vegetation, and the atmosphere generally are sparse enough that they do not mask the geologic contributions. Samples from 37 sites on the four major headwater streams and several minor tributaries were examined geochemically. Data derived from the samples allowed the construction of a hydrogeochemical weathering model specific to the study area. A significant feature of this model is that carbonic acid is the dominant chemical agent involved in geochemical weathering.

The aim of this study was to examine the geologic influences on river chemistry. However, atmospheric contributions dominate the hydrochemistry through at least the first 10 kilometers of stream length for the easternmost three of the four major headwater streams.

Except for the atmospheric contribution, surface-water chemistry is dominated by the groundwater chemistry, which is indelibly marked by the lithology the groundwater passes through. Other geologic factors in the study area that appear to influence groundwater chemistry, and hence stream chemistry, are the glacial till and outwash deposits and a major zone of east-west trending high-angle thrust faults. A technique for estimating the hydrochemistry of the groundwater based on surface-water chemistry and flow measurements was developed in this study.

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