Hydrochemical Assessment Of Rare Earth Elements In Various Formation Water Types In The Paradox Basin
Presenter: Danielle Rehwoldt1
Advisor(s): Dr. Jennifer McIntosh
1Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Rare earth elements (REE) are essential to the manufacturing of technologies today such as computer memory, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, and fluorescent lighting. REE are naturally abundant in sedimentary basin fluids and may be used as natural tracers of fluid sources, pathways, and fluid-rock reactions. This study utilized REE data from formation waters in the Paradox Basin in the Colorado Plateau to investigate concentrations, patterns, and sources of REE. Preliminary results indicate that brines that are sourced from salt dissolution by topographically-driven meteoric recharge that has interacted with siliciclastic rocks have different REE patterns compared to salt-derived brine seeps that have been diluted by snowmelt. We found that the Salt Creek has higher total dissolved solids values correlating with higher REE values. Brines sourced from paleo-evaporated seawater have the highest REE (7.5 ppb), and are particularly enriched in light, more readily-extractable REE. The Honaker Trail and the Cane Creek samples have the highest sum of REE within the area which indicates these areas show signs of economically extractable rare earth metals. Additionally, the cane creek samples compared to the seawater showed enriched values of REE which indicates that the REE most likely came from the paleo-evaporated seawater within the Paradox Formation. The Honaker trail samples show signs of REE concentrations mostly originating from the paleo-evaporated seawater. This extended study compares the Paradox Basin data with other basinal brines through NASC-normalized REE data, identifying notable trends such as abundance of Europium and Gadolinium among other sites.