PROVO, Utah, June 7 (UPI) — A U.S. geologist says he’s located the source of water at the Ash Meadows oasis, which is home to 24 unique plant and animal species near Death Valley.
Brigham Young University Professor Stephen Neilson said the water that gushes at 10,000 gallons a minute from under the oasis is completing a 15,000-year journey, flowing slowly underground from what is now the Nevada Test Site via a crack in the Earth’s crust known as the “Gravity Fault,” which connects the test site’s aquifer with Ash Meadows.
It will presumably be another 15,000 years before radioactive water surfaces at Ash Meadows, Nelson said.
“Since the crust in Western states is being pulled apart east to west, it creates north-south fault lines such as this one that guides groundwater from one geographically closed basin to another,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s team found of all possible sources, only water from the Nevada Test Site matched the profile of dissolved minerals and had comparable hydrogen and oxygen isotopes as those found at Ash Meadows. Water from the Spring Mountains near Las Vegas — previously assumed to be the source of Ash Meadows water — carried a different isotopic signature.
The study appears in the May 28 issue of The Journal of Hydrology.
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