Several prior studies investigated the use of stable isotopes of water in hydrogeological applications, most on a local scale and often involving the isotopic gradient (evaluated by exploiting the so-called altitude effect), calculated on the basis of rainwater isotopes. A few times, this gradient has been obtained using the stable isotopic contents of low-yield springs in a limited time series. Despite the fact that this method has been recognized by the hydrogeological community, marked differences have been observed with respect to the mean stable isotopes content of groundwater and rainwater. The present investigation compares the stable isotopic signatures of 23 low-yield springs discharging along two transects from the Tyrrhenian sea to the Po Plain of Italy, evaluates the different isotopic gradients and assesses their distribution in relation to some climatic and topographic conditions. Stable isotopes of water show that groundwater in the study area is recharged by precipitation and that the precipitation regime in the eastern portion of the study area is strongly controlled by a shadow effect caused by the Alps chain on the air masses from central Europe. Stable isotopes (in particular the δ18O and deuterium excess (d-excess) contents together with the obtained isotopic gradients) allow us to identify in the study area an opposite oriented orographic effect and a different provenance of the air masses. When the windward slope is located on the Tyrrhenian side, the precipitation shows a predominant oceanic origin; when the windward slope moves to the Adriatic side, the precipitation is characterized by a continental origin. The main results of this study confirm the usefulness of low-yield springs and the need for a highly detailed survey-scale hydrological investigation in the mountainous context.

Estimating the isotopic altitude gradient for hydrogeological studies in mountainous areas: Are the low-yield springs suitable? Insights from the northern Apennines of Italy

Tazioli, A.;
2019-01-01

Abstract

Several prior studies investigated the use of stable isotopes of water in hydrogeological applications, most on a local scale and often involving the isotopic gradient (evaluated by exploiting the so-called altitude effect), calculated on the basis of rainwater isotopes. A few times, this gradient has been obtained using the stable isotopic contents of low-yield springs in a limited time series. Despite the fact that this method has been recognized by the hydrogeological community, marked differences have been observed with respect to the mean stable isotopes content of groundwater and rainwater. The present investigation compares the stable isotopic signatures of 23 low-yield springs discharging along two transects from the Tyrrhenian sea to the Po Plain of Italy, evaluates the different isotopic gradients and assesses their distribution in relation to some climatic and topographic conditions. Stable isotopes of water show that groundwater in the study area is recharged by precipitation and that the precipitation regime in the eastern portion of the study area is strongly controlled by a shadow effect caused by the Alps chain on the air masses from central Europe. Stable isotopes (in particular the δ18O and deuterium excess (d-excess) contents together with the obtained isotopic gradients) allow us to identify in the study area an opposite oriented orographic effect and a different provenance of the air masses. When the windward slope is located on the Tyrrhenian side, the precipitation shows a predominant oceanic origin; when the windward slope moves to the Adriatic side, the precipitation is characterized by a continental origin. The main results of this study confirm the usefulness of low-yield springs and the need for a highly detailed survey-scale hydrological investigation in the mountainous context.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11566/272043
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