Student Research

Sources of salinity and water in a spring and natural oil seep system in the Santa Susana Mountains, Newhall, California

The purpose of this investigation is to identify the source(s) of salinity and water, which contribute to the north flowing streams of Towsley and Wiley canyons of Newhall, California. The waters are being assessed through geochemical analyses to determine if they contribute to the high chloride content of groundwater in the southern part of the Santa Clara River East Groundwater Basin of the Santa Clarita Valley. To date, a combined total of 30 springs and natural oil/tar seeps have been identified through geologic mapping of the study area. Thrust faulting and contacts of steeply dipping Miocene formations appear to control the migratory paths of fluid flow. Most of the water and oil discharging from the natural oil/tar seeps and proximate springs flows naturally toward or into the streams that line the canyons of this local park in Los Angeles County. Oil, oil sheen in the streams, and rotten egg odors are commonly observed and present a potential impact to water resources of the basin. The waters discharging from these sources were evaluated by testing pH, dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, and elemental composition. Preliminary salinity testing of these waters had results of total dissolved solids (TDS) ranging from 900 to 5300 mg/L and chloride values in excess of 8000 ppm which far exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Secondary and Primary Drinking Water Standards.

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