Trace element analysis of selected springs in the Virgin River Basin

Mary Ann Yelken, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Spring water from 23 springs in and near the Virgin River Basin (southwestern Utah, northwestern Arizona, and southeastern Nevada) was collected and analyzed for chemical concentrations. Trace elements and major ion chemistry was used to determine the potential for utilizing water chemistry to provide information on spring water source and flow pathways. Principal Component Analysis (PCA), rare earth element (REE) normalization patterns, and mineral equilibrium modeling (PHREEQE) techniques were used to analyze the data set. Four major spring water groups were displayed by the PCA, based on similarities in water chemistry. The analyses suggest that spring water chemistry is a result of interactions with the rocks through which the waters flow. The usefulness of the water chemistry to suggest actual spring source and flow pathways in the Virgin River Basin was limited due to the small number of sampling sites relative to the large areal extent of the basin.