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Geophysical data collected within and adjacent to the Little Wind River near Riverton, Wyoming


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Terry, N. and Briggs, M.A., 2019, Geophysical data collected within and adjacent to the Little Wind River near Riverton, Wyoming: U.S. Geological Survey data release,


This data release contains geophysical data collected at the Little Wind River site near Riverton, Wyoming in 2015 and 2017. The dataset contains:[1] Fiber Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing data (FO-DTS, August-September 2015) collected in the water along the river bank, [2] Electrical Resistivity Tomography data (ERT, August 2017) collected on land near the river bank, and [3] Frequency domain Electromagnetic Induction (EMI, August 2017) data collected along the river and more extensively throughout the study region. Data for each of these methods can be found in the child items linked below.

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Renewed interest in nuclear energy has led to re-examination of domestic uranium resources. Part of this re-examination requires consideration of environmental health effects resulting from the uranium resource development life cycle. This includes the need to develop and provide scalable information on the potential effects of mining and processing activities on biological receptors. One approach for obtaining scalable and transferable information is the development of study sites at legacy uranium mining and milling sites that exist in the United States as part of DOE’s Office of Legacy Management (U.S. Department of Energy, 2014). Legacy sites serve as long-term experiments that permit examination of processes controlling mobility and bioaccumulation of contaminants in the environment. Locations where legacy groundwater plumes containing elevated uranium concentrations interact with perennial streams and the associated biological receptors offer a unique natural laboratory to increase our understanding of these interactions. The Riverton, Wyoming, Processing Site has many characteristics that are intended to provide scalable information on the potential effects of uranium mining and processing activities on biological receptors. These site characteristics include: (1) representative of numerous uranium plumes that are significantly influenced by groundwater-river interactions in the western United States; (2) site-specific monitoring data indicating that the site might not meet the 100-year regulatory time frame for groundwater compliance; (3) riparian zones along the Little Wind River that provide opportunities to study health impacts on biological receptors; (4) DOE, tribal, and state interest for a better understanding of short- and long-term processes impacting uranium transport at the site; and (5) close proximity of the site to the USGS Riverton field office for cost effective logistical, laboratory, and technician support of research and monitoring activities. Mapping groundwater flow and focused discharge to surface water at the Little Wind River site is important to the understanding of uranium fate and transport and future management and monitoring activities. Geophysical methods were used to gather spatially extensive information on groundwater flow and discharge in the study area. Specifically, FO-DTS was used to locate areas of the riverbank where groundwater discharge was occurring, EMI was used to infer the distribution of high salinity groundwater across the landscape and infer groundwater/surface water mixing zones, and ERT was used to provide higher resolution electrical conductivity information to compare/contrast with the EMI data.

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DOI doi:10.5066/P9J9VJBR

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