Exploring soil water dynamics under different land use types is important for water resource management and vegetation restoration in the Loess Plateau. In this study, we investigated the hydrogen and oxygen isotopic compositions of soil water from four different land use types to explore the mechanism of soil water movement and transformation and analyse the influence of land use. The results show that the range of stable isotopes (δD and δ18
O) in soil water was smaller than that in precipitation. Values for δD and δ18
O in soil water showed relatively similar temporal variation, heavy isotopes were enriched in the soil water in July and depleted in October. Stable isotope values in shallow (<100 cm depth) soil water and deep (>200 cm depth) soil water were low. The δD and δ18
O values in woodlands decreased gradually with increasing depth. Across the four land use types, the maximum variation in δD and δ18
O was in the shallow depth of the soil profile. Groundwater was recharged mainly from precipitation and then from soil water. The ratio of groundwater recharge by soil water under different land use types followed this rank order: woodland (35.70%) > grassland (31.14%) > shrubland (29.47%) > cropland (29.18%). Matrix flow and preferential flow coexisted during infiltration, and the occurrence of preferential flow was related to the land use type. The main reason for the variation in isotopic composition in soil water is the difference in soil evaporation, which is influenced by different vegetation cover. Owing to the difference in soil evaporation and fractionation, precipitation on cropland, shrubland, and grassland can recharge more soil water than on woodland.
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