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Water 2015, 7(6), 2673-2690; doi:10.3390/w7062673

Tracing the Sources and Processes of Groundwater in an Alpine Glacierized Region in Southwest China: Evidence from Environmental Isotopes

State Key Laboratory of Hydraulics and Mountain River Engineering, College of Water Resource and Hydropower, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065, China
Department of Hydropower Business, Power China Huadong Engineering Corporation Limited, No. 22, ChaoWang Rd., Hangzhou 310014, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: David Polya
Received: 15 February 2015 / Revised: 9 May 2015 / Accepted: 21 May 2015 / Published: 29 May 2015
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The melting of alpine snow and glaciers is an important hydrologic process on Mount Gongga, China. The relevance of ice-snow melt to the groundwater recharge in the glacierized Hailuogou watershed is so far not well known. To better understand the origin of groundwater and the hydrological interactions between groundwater, meltwater, and precipitation in this region, 148 environmental isotopic data of water samples were analyzed for changes in isotopic composition. The results indicate that the groundwater contains a uniform isotopic signature, with δ18O values between −13.5‰ and −11.1‰ and δ2H values between −90‰ and −75‰. The mean stable isotopic composition of groundwater is heavier than that of ice-snow meltwater but lighter than that of precipitation. The effect of evaporation on the isotopic variation of groundwater is very limited and the seasonal isotope variations in precipitation are attenuated in groundwater. A model based on the δ18O results suggests that approximately 35% of the groundwater is derived from ice-snow meltwater sources. The study demonstrates that ice-snow meltwater is a substantial source of shallow groundwater in the alpine regions on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. View Full-Text
Keywords: Hailuogou watershed; groundwater; ice-snow meltwater; stable isotope Hailuogou watershed; groundwater; ice-snow meltwater; stable isotope

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Meng, Y.; Liu, G.; Li, M. Tracing the Sources and Processes of Groundwater in an Alpine Glacierized Region in Southwest China: Evidence from Environmental Isotopes. Water 2015, 7, 2673-2690.

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