Geochemical studies of backfill aggregates, lake sediment cores and the Hueco Bolson Aquifer

Anita Thapalia, University of Texas at El Paso


This dissertation comprises of three different researches that focuses on the application of geochemistry from aggregates, lake sediment cores and Hueco Bolson Aquifer. Each study is independent and presented in the publication format. The first chapter is already published and the second chapter is in revision phase. Overall, three studies measure the large scale (field) as well as bench scale (lab) water-rock interactions influenced by the climatic and anthropogenic factors spans from the field of environmental geology to civil engineering. The first chapter of this dissertation addresses the chemical evaluation of coarse aggregates from six different quarries in Texas. The goal of this work is to find out the best geochemical methods for assessing the corrosion potential of coarse aggregates prior to their use in mechanically stabilized earth walls. Electrochemical parameters help to define the corrosion potential of aggregates following two different leaching protocols. Testing the coarse and fine aggregates demonstrate the chemical difference due to size-related kinetic leaching effects. Field fines also show different chemistry than the bulk rock indicating the weathering impact on carbonate rocks. The second chapter investigates zinc (Zn) isotopic signatures from eight lake sediment cores collected both from pristine lakes and those impacted by urban anthropogenic contamination. Zinc from the natural weathering of rocks and anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants are transported to these lakes and the signatures are recorded in the sediments. Isotopic analysis of core samples provides the signature of anthropogenic contamination sources. Dated sediment core and isotopic analysis can identify Zn inputs that are correlated to the landuse and population change of the watersheds. Comparison of isotopic data from both pristine and urban lake sediment core also serves as an analog in other lake sediment cores in the world. The third chapter studies on Hueco Bolson Aquifer that an important sources of water in the El Paso/Cd. Juraez metroplex. To delineate the boundary between fresh and brackish water from the northern Hueco Bolson Aquifer, we utilize an integrative geochemical, geophysical, and sedimentological approach. The goal of this study is to use geophysical well-log analysis and the water chemical analysis for identifying the changes in the quality of the groundwater. A detailed microgravity survey is utilized to explore the subsurface geological structures that control the conduits and/or barriers of groundwater flow. A detailed geochemical analysis of aquifer samples provide salinity of groundwater that will complement to the subsurface structures obtained from the geophysical study. This fundamental research in developing methods from an integrated approach to estimate aquifer quality can be used as an analog for similar studies in other arid regions.

Subject Area

Geophysics|Environmental engineering|Geochemistry

Recommended Citation

Thapalia, Anita, "Geochemical studies of backfill aggregates, lake sediment cores and the Hueco Bolson Aquifer" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3682495.