Profiles of geochemical and isotopic signatures from the Helan Mountains to the eastern Tengger Desert, northwestern China

Z Ding, J Ma, W Zhao, Y Jiang, Andrew Love

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We used environmental tracers to provide insights into groundwater evolution and flow processes on the eastern margin of China's Tengger Desert and determine recharge sources and recharge timing along the flow paths. The chemical composition was generally Na+ enriched, with no dominant anions. The chemistry is strongly influenced by evaporation and subsequent dissolution of minerals during recharge in the rainy season. Other processes, including cation exchange and weathering, also contribute to the water composition. The median groundwater δ18O value was around -9.1‰, and most groundwater in the basin was depleted in heavy isotopes. δ13C in deep groundwater ranged from -4.73 to -9.56‰, indicating that carbonate mixing is common but that isolated carbonate still exists. Radiocarbon values in groundwater ranged from 5.4 to 63.5 pmc. We estimated a residence time of 17.9 and 19.6 kyr at two desert sites, revealing that some replenishment of desert aquifers occurred in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, when some of the upper reaches of rivers were characterized as modern water.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-87
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Arid Environments
    Volume90
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

    Keywords

    • Environmental tracers
    • Groundwater recharge
    • Radiocarbon
    • Residence time

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