Origin of halite brine in the Onondaga Trough near Syracuse, New York State, USA: modeling geochemistry and variable-density flow
Halite brine (saturation ranging from 45 to 80%) lies within glacial sediments that fill the Onondaga Trough, a bedrock valley deepened by Pleistocene glaciation near Syracuse, New York State, USA. The most concentrated brine occupies the northern end of the trough, about 10 km downgradient of the northern limit of halite beds in the Silurian Salina Group, the assumed source of salt. The chemical composition of the brine and its radiocarbon age suggest that the brine originally formed about 16,700 years ago through dissolution of halite by glacial melt water and later mixed with saline bedrock water. Two hypotheses regarding the formation of the brine pool were tested through variable-density flow simulations using SEAWAT. Simulation results supported the first hypothesis that the brine pool was derived from a source in the glacial sediments and then migrated to its current position, where it has persisted for over 16,000 years. A second hypothesis that the brine pool formed through steady accumulation of brine from upward flow of a source in the underlying bedrock was not supported by simulation results, because the simulated age distribution was much younger than the age estimated from geochemical modeling.