U and Sr Isotopes in Ground Water and Calcite, Yucca Mountain, Nevada: Evidence Against Upwelling Water

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Science  25 Oct 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5031, pp. 551-554
DOI: 10.1126/science.254.5031.551


Hydrogenic calcite and opaline silica deposits in fault zones at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, have created considerable public and scientific controversy because of the possible development of a high-level nuclear waste repository at this location. Strontium and uranium isotopic compositions of hydrogenic materials were used to test whether the veins could have formed by upwelling of deep-seated waters. The vein deposits are isotopically distinct from ground water in the two aquifers that underlie Yucca Mountain, indicating that the calcite could not have precipitated from ground water. The data are consistent with a surficial origin for the hydrogenic deposits.