Estimation of palaeohydrochemical conditions using carbonate minerals

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Hiroki Amamiya, Takashi Mizuno, Teruki Iwatsuki, Takashi Yuguchi, Hiroaki Murakami and Yoko Saito-Kokubu, JAEA Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Toki, Japan
The long-term evolution of geochemical environment in deep underground is indispensable research subject for geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste, because the evolution of geochemical environment would impact migration behavior of radionuclides in deep underground.

Many researchers have made efforts previously to elucidate the geochemical environment within the groundwater residence time based on the analysis of the actual groundwater. However, it is impossible to estimate the geochemical environment for the longer time scale than the groundwater residence time in this method. In this case, analysis of the chemical properties of secondary minerals are one of useful method to estimate the paleohydrochemical conditions (temperature, salinity, pH and redox potential). In particular, carbonate minerals would be available to infer the long-term evolution of hydrochemical for the following reasons;

-it easily reaches chemical equilibrium with groundwater and precipitates in open space of water flowing path

-it reflects the chemical and isotopic composition of groundwater at the time of crystallization

We reviewed the previous studies on carbonate minerals and geochemical conditions in deep underground and estimated the hydrochemical characteristics of past groundwater by using carbonate minerals. As a result, it was found that temperature and salinity of the groundwater during crystallization of carbonate minerals were evaluated quantitatively. On the other hand, pH and redox potential can only be understood qualitatively. However, it is suggested that the content of heavy metal elements such as manganese, iron and uranium, and rare earth elements in the carbonate minerals are useful indicators for estimating redox potential.

This study was carried out under a contract with METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) as part of its R&D supporting program for developing geological disposal technology.