Many possible origins have been proposed for the saline groundwater observed in many deep geological environments. In particular, samples obtained from deep boreholes located in granite at the Mizunami Underground Research Laboratory in Central Japan show total dissolved solids increasing to 50 mmol/L at depths below 800 m. Different hypothesis have been formulated to explain the observed fluid composition, among them, long-term water-rock interaction, mixing with residual fluids of magmatic origin and relict seawater dating from Miocene times. A review of the hydrochemical and isotopic data suggests that the three above hypotheses may be valid, at least to different degrees, or that processes acting over more recent geological times may be involved. The origin of the salinity was assessed by simulating land emersion by means of changing the upper recharge boundary. In this manner the Miocene seawater was modeled as being continually mixed with fresh water until the present time. The effects of different retardation processes were considered by varying factors such as matrix diffusion and fracture conductivity. Finally, geochemical reactions reproduced trends in major ions and master variables. This study shows that the salinity observed in the boreholes can be explained qualitatively as residual Miocene age seawater subjected to alteration due to long-term contact with the host material and continuous mixing with meteoric groundwater.

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