Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Committee Member

Vernon F. Hodge

Number of Pages



Elemental signature analysis (ESA) is a term that describes the use of the presence/absence or relative abundance of elements in samples. Several studies have been performed on the identification of these elemental signatures or fingerprints of water using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS); Lake Mead is the primary water supply for the Las Vegas Valley. During the summer months, several large underground aquifers are used to supplement the Lake Mead water supply. Treated Lake Mead water is recharged during the low demand months to several of these aquifers. The Las Vegas Valley is surrounded by many private groundwater wells that tap smaller aquifers. Water quality varies between these aquifers. Many of the wells are exposed to controlled or uncontrolled contamination from a variety of sources, including cross-contamination between aquifers; Aquifers were identified by using the available literature and data obtained from ICP atomic emission spectrometer (ICP-AES) trace-metal analysis of water from 62 private wells in the Las Vegas Valley; Private groundwater wells in the northwest, southwest, and southeast areas of the Las Vegas Valley and water from three recharge wells were sampled and analyzed by ICP-AES for 14 elements and by ICP-MS for 58 elements; Element concentrations obtained using ICP-MS and statistical analysis were used to identify elements for use as an elemental signature of the treated Lake Mead water used for recharge of the Las Vegas Valley aquifers. Ratios of the elements identified as suitable markers for elemental signature analysis, were determined to identify potential trends in the data between areas and treated Lake Mead water; Results of the study indicate that element concentrations vary significantly between areas in the Las Vegas Valley, thus allowing them to be used as criteria to distinguish between two water sources. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).


Analysis; Determining; Elemental; Element; Groundwater; Lake Mead; Methods; Nevada; Signature; Treated; Water

Controlled Subject

Chemistry, Analytic; Environmental sciences; Hydrology; Civil engineering

File Format


File Size

2344.96 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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