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High concentrations of dissolved barium have been found in ground water from bedrock wells on the Seneca Nation of Indians Reservation on Cattaraugus Creek in southwestern New York. Concentrations in 1982 were as high as 23.0 milligrams per liter , the highest found reported from any natural ground-water system in the world. The highest concentrations are in a bedrock aquifer and in small lenses of saturated gravel between bedrock and the overlying till. The bedrock aquifer is partly confined by silt, clay, and till. The high barium concentrations are attributed to dissolution of the mineral barite (BaSO4), which is present in the bedrock and possibly in overlying silt, clay, or till. The dissolution of barite seems to be controlled by action of sulfate-reducing bacteria, which alter the BaSO4 equilibrium by removing sulfate ions and permitting additional barite to dissolve. Ground water from the surficial, unconsolidated deposits and surface water in streams contain little or no barium. Because barium is chemically similar to calcium, it probably could be removed by cation exchange or treatments similar to those used for water softening. (USGS)


USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report: 84-4129

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