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Title: Groundwater recharge mechanism in an integrated tableland of the Loess Plateau, northern China: insights from environmental tracers

Abstract

Assessing groundwater recharge characteristics (recharge rate, history, mechanisms (piston and preferential flow)) and groundwater age in arid and semi-arid environments remains a difficult but important research frontier. Such assessments are particularly important when the unsaturated zone (UZ) is thick and the recharge rate is limited. This study combined evaluations of the thick UZ with those of the saturated zone and used multiple tracers, such as Cl, NO{sub 3}, Br, {sup 2}H, {sup 18}O, {sup 13}C, {sup 3}H and {sup 14}C, to study groundwater recharge characteristics in an integrated loess tableland in the Loess Plateau, China, where precipitation infiltration is the only recharge source for shallow groundwater. The results indicate that diffuse recharge beneath crops, as the main land use of the study area, is 55–71 mm yr{sup −1} based on the chloride mass balance of soil profiles. The length of time required for annual precipitation to reach the water table is 160–400 yrs. The groundwater is all pre-modern water and paleowater, with corrected {sup 14}C age ranging from 136 to 23,412 yrs. Most of the water that eventually becomes recharge originally infiltrated in July–September. The Cl and NO{sub 3} contents in the upper UZ are considerably higher than those in the deep UZ andmore » shallow groundwater because of recent human activities. The shallow groundwater has not been in hydraulic equilibrium with present near-surface boundary conditions. The homogeneous material of the UZ and relatively old groundwater age imply that piston flow is the dominant recharge mechanism for the shallow groundwater in the tableland.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Key Laboratory of Shale Gas and Geoengineering, Institute of Geology and Geophysics (China)
  2. China University of Mining Technology, College of Geoscience and Surveying Engineering (China)
  3. Lanzhou University, Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education) (China)
  4. The Climate Corporation (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22780913
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Hydrogeology Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 25; Journal Issue: 7; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2017 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany; Article Copyright (c) 2017 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Journal ID: ISSN 1431-2174
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; BROMINE; CARBON 13; CARBON 14; CHINA; CHLORIDES; DEUTERIUM; ENVIRONMENT; GROUNDWATER RECHARGE; LAND USE; MASS BALANCE; NITROGEN OXIDES; OXYGEN 18; RADIOACTIVE TRACER LOGGING; SOILS; TRITIUM; WATER TABLES

Citation Formats

Huang, Tianming, Pang, Zhonghe, Liu, Jilai, Ma, Jinzhu, and Gates, John. Groundwater recharge mechanism in an integrated tableland of the Loess Plateau, northern China: insights from environmental tracers. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1007/S10040-017-1599-8.
Huang, Tianming, Pang, Zhonghe, Liu, Jilai, Ma, Jinzhu, & Gates, John. Groundwater recharge mechanism in an integrated tableland of the Loess Plateau, northern China: insights from environmental tracers. United States. doi:10.1007/S10040-017-1599-8.
Huang, Tianming, Pang, Zhonghe, Liu, Jilai, Ma, Jinzhu, and Gates, John. Wed . "Groundwater recharge mechanism in an integrated tableland of the Loess Plateau, northern China: insights from environmental tracers". United States. doi:10.1007/S10040-017-1599-8.
@article{osti_22780913,
title = {Groundwater recharge mechanism in an integrated tableland of the Loess Plateau, northern China: insights from environmental tracers},
author = {Huang, Tianming and Pang, Zhonghe and Liu, Jilai and Ma, Jinzhu and Gates, John},
abstractNote = {Assessing groundwater recharge characteristics (recharge rate, history, mechanisms (piston and preferential flow)) and groundwater age in arid and semi-arid environments remains a difficult but important research frontier. Such assessments are particularly important when the unsaturated zone (UZ) is thick and the recharge rate is limited. This study combined evaluations of the thick UZ with those of the saturated zone and used multiple tracers, such as Cl, NO{sub 3}, Br, {sup 2}H, {sup 18}O, {sup 13}C, {sup 3}H and {sup 14}C, to study groundwater recharge characteristics in an integrated loess tableland in the Loess Plateau, China, where precipitation infiltration is the only recharge source for shallow groundwater. The results indicate that diffuse recharge beneath crops, as the main land use of the study area, is 55–71 mm yr{sup −1} based on the chloride mass balance of soil profiles. The length of time required for annual precipitation to reach the water table is 160–400 yrs. The groundwater is all pre-modern water and paleowater, with corrected {sup 14}C age ranging from 136 to 23,412 yrs. Most of the water that eventually becomes recharge originally infiltrated in July–September. The Cl and NO{sub 3} contents in the upper UZ are considerably higher than those in the deep UZ and shallow groundwater because of recent human activities. The shallow groundwater has not been in hydraulic equilibrium with present near-surface boundary conditions. The homogeneous material of the UZ and relatively old groundwater age imply that piston flow is the dominant recharge mechanism for the shallow groundwater in the tableland.},
doi = {10.1007/S10040-017-1599-8},
journal = {Hydrogeology Journal},
issn = {1431-2174},
number = 7,
volume = 25,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {11}
}