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Advantages and challenges of using soil water isotopes to assess groundwater recharge dominated by snowmelt at a field study located in Canada

Chesnaux Romain et Stumpp Christine. (2018). Advantages and challenges of using soil water isotopes to assess groundwater recharge dominated by snowmelt at a field study located in Canada. Hydrological Sciences Journal,

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URL officielle: https://doi.org/10.1080/02626667.2018.1442577

Résumé

Seasonal signals of stable isotopes in precipitation, combined with measurements of isotope ratios in soil water, can be used for quantitative estimation of groundwater recharge rates. This study investigates the applicability of using the piston flow principle and the peak shift displacement method to estimate actual groundwater recharge rates in a humid Nordic region located in the province of Quebec, Canada. Two different sites with and without vegetation (C1 and C2) in an unconfined aquifer were tested by measuring soil water isotope ratios (18O/16O and 2H/1H) and volumetric pore water content. Core samples were obtained along the vadose zone down to the groundwater table at the two sites (2.45 m for Site C1 and 4.15 m for Site C2). The peak shift method to estimate groundwater recharge rates was shown to be accurate only in certain specific conditions inherent to the soil properties and the topographical situation of the investigated sites. Indeed, at Site C2, recharge from the snowmelt could not be estimated because of heterogeneity in the lower part of the vadose zone. At this same site the later recharge after the snowmelt (in the period from late spring to early autumn) could be estimated accurately because the upper part of the vadose zone was homogeneous. Furthermore, at site C1, runoff/runon phenomena hampered calculations of actual infiltration and thus produced inaccurate results for recharge. These two different site effects (heterogeneity in the first site and runoff/runon in the other site) were identified as being limiting factors in the accurate assessment of actual recharge. This study therefore recommends the use of the peak shift method for (1) humid Nordic regions, (2) homogeneous and thick vadose zones, and (3) areas with few or limited site effects (runoff/runon).

Type de document:Article publié dans une revue avec comité d'évaluation
Version évaluée par les pairs:Oui
Date:12 Mars 2018
Sujets:Sciences naturelles et génie > Sciences naturelles > Sciences de la terre (géologie, géographie)
Département, module, service et unité de recherche:Départements et modules > Département des sciences appliquées > Unité d'enseignement en sciences de la Terre
Mots-clés:vadose zone, δ18O, δ2H, groundwater recharge, soil properties, site effects, heterogeneity
Déposé le:29 mars 2018 00:34
Dernière modification:29 mars 2018 00:34
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