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Characterizing groundwater recharge using oxygen and hydrogen isotopes: a case study in a temperate forested region, South Korea

Gautam, Mukesh Kumar, Lee, Kwang-Sik, Song, Byeong-Yeol
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.3 pp. 110
case studies, deuterium, equations, evapotranspiration, groundwater, groundwater recharge, isotopes, lakes, oxygen, rain, seasonal variation, soil, summer, temperate zones, winter, South Korea
In the cool temperate region of South Korea, oxygen and hydrogen isotopes of groundwater, lake water, and precipitation were studied to determine the season of groundwater recharge. All the groundwater samples, irrespective of season, on δ¹⁸O–δ²H scale plotted along the summer precipitation, suggesting summer precipitation largely modulates recharge. The deuterium excess values of groundwater (d-excess) show clear seasonal difference, higher in winter (> 18‰) and lower in summer (< 10‰). And its resemblance to the summer precipitation d-excess value further suggests dominant role of summer precipitation in groundwater recharge. Based on the mass balance equation, with end-member d-excess values of seasonal precipitation and groundwater as input variables, groundwater is composed of 66% summer and 34% winter precipitation. Despite the study area being heavily forested, summer rainfall contribution higher than winter suggests that evapotranspiration effect is minimal in the region; may be due to thin sand–gravel-based porous soil overlying highly weathered granitic rock system.