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Geochemical effects of deep-well injection of the Paradox Valley brine into Paleozoic carbonate rocks, Colorado, U.S.A.

Applied Geochemistry
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0883-2927(92)90043-3


Abstract Brine seepage into the Dolores River from ground water in Paradox Valley, Colorado constitutes a major source of salt to the Colorado River. Plants are enderway to remove this source of salt by drawing down the Paradox Valley brine (PVB) and forcibly injecting it into a deep disposal well (4.8 km). Experiments were conducted to determine the effects of deep-well injection of PVB. The results show that PVB is near saturation with anhydrite at 25°C, and that heating results in anhydrite precipitation. The amount and the rate at which anhydrite forms is temperature, pressure, and substrate dependent. Paradox Valley brine heated in the presence of Precambrian rocks from the drill core produces the same amount of anhydrite as PVB heated alone, but at a greatly accelerated rate. A 30% dilution of PVB with Dolores River water completely eliminates anhydrite precipitation when the fluid is heated with the Precambrian rocks. Interaction of PVB and Leadville Limestone is characterized by dolomitization of calcite by brine Mg which releases Ca to solution. This added Ca reacts with SO 4 to form increased amounts of anhydrite. A 20% dilution of PVB by Dolores River water has no effect on dolomitization and reduces the amount of anhydrite only slightly. A 65% dilution of PVB by Dolores River water still does not prevent dolomitization but does suppress anhydrite formation. Computer modeling of PVB by programs utilizing the Pitzer ion-interaction parameters is in general agreement with the experimental results. Ion-activity products calculated by both SOLMINEQ and PHRQPITZ are close to equilibrium with both anhydrite and dolomite whenever these phases are present experimentally, although the calculations over-estimate by a factor of 2 the degree of saturation. Some discrepancies in the calculated results between the two programs are due largely to differences in mineral solubility data.

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