Noble Gas and Isotopic Analysis to Delineate Subsurface Flow Patterns North of Pyramid Lake, Nevada

Affiliation(s) PI Project period Funded by
DHS Cooper, Clay 08/01/2012 - 09/30/2013 University of Nevada, Reno

Project Description

The geothermal potential of the Astor Pass area, six kilometers north of the Needle Rocks area of Pyramid Lake has undergone extensive investigation over the past seven years. The investigation has relied heavily on geophysical investigation of geologic to delineate fluid-flow controlling faults. In this proposed research, I will sample springs and wells from Dry Valley, the Smoke Creek Desert, the San Emidio Desert, and the Needle Rocks area to determine if there is a relationship between reservoir fluids at Astor Pass and those in the other areas. The major investigative tool will be an analysis of dissolved noble gases, deuterium and oxygen-18, and carbon-14 and carbon-13 in the fluid samples. All samples will be analyzed for major ions and cations as well. A preliminary isotopic analysis suggests that fluid discharging from the flowing well at the Needle Rocks area have been recharged from the same elevation as fluid in the reservoir at Astor Pass, though more thorough sampling is required to shore-up certainty. Any relationship between the fluids at Astor Pass and the Needles, or any of the three basins to the north is unknown at this time.