Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

7-12-2014

Abstract

The objective of this research was to improve understanding of the groundwater impacts of uranium mining in the San Juan Basin by estimating the volumetric amount of water removed from the underlying Westwater Canyon member aquifer. This was achieved by modeling a conceptual mine that is based on the physical characteristics present near the proposed Roca Honda Mine near Grants, New Mexico. An analysis of the uncertainty of the physical, situational, and model parameters and their associated sensitivities was conducted so that an understanding of potential groundwater withdrawals for uranium mining could be gathered. Uranium mining in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico, has ranged from being active between the years of 1950 and 1980, to currently non-existent due to volatility in the price of uranium. Previous mining in the area has caused detrimental effects to water resources in the area and future mining activity in the area could have a similar effect. Although it is well known that mining has and will affect water resources in the San Juan Basin, there is little knowledge on this subject available. The key findings through the analysis and understanding of the uncertainty and sensitivity of these aquifer properties were the probability and the range of the volumes and flow rates that would be extracted for the conceptual mine. This analysis allows for better decisions and research to be made about future mining activity.

Keywords

Water, Energy, Uranium Mining, New Mexico, Impacts, Groundwater, Theis Method, Cooper-Jacob, Uncertainty, Sensitivity, Monte-Carlo

Document Type

Thesis

Language

English

Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Stone, Mark

First Committee Member (Chair)

Morrison, Ryan

Second Committee Member

Bogus, Susan

Third Committee Member

González-Pinzón, Ricardo

Share

COinS