Title

Geochemical and Isotopic Evidence of a Groundwater Source in the Corral Canyon Meadow Complex, Central Nevada, USA

Abstract

Major inorganic ions and stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in stream water, groundwater, groundwater seeps and springs were measured in the Corral Canyon meadow complex and watershed in the Toquima Mountains of central Nevada, USA. The purpose of the study was to determine whether stream water or groundwater was the source of water that supports vegetation in the meadow complex. Water samples from the watershed and meadow complex were mixed cation-HCO3 type. Stream water sampled at different locations in the meadow complex showed variations in temperature, pH and specific conductance. The cation-anion proportions for stream water were similar to groundwater, groundwater seeps and runoff from the meadow complex. Stable oxygen isotope ratios for stream water (-17·1% to -17·6% versus VSMOW) and groundwater and groundwater seeps in the meadow site (-17·0% to -17·7% versus VSMOW) were similar, and consistent with a local meteoric origin. Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and the 13CDIC for stream water (-12·1% to -15·0% versus VPDB) were different from that of groundwater from the meadow complex (-15·3% to -19·9% versus VPDB), suggesting different carbon evolution pathways. However, a simple model based on cation- 13CDIC suggests that stream water was being recharged by shallow groundwater, groundwater seeps and runoff from the meadow complex. This leads to the conclusion that the source of water that supports vegetation in the meadow complex was primarily groundwater. The results of this study suggest that multiple chemical and stable carbon isotope tracers are useful in determining the source of water that supports vegetation in meadow complexes in small alpine watersheds.

Department(s)

Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Sponsor(s)

United States. Forest Service

Keywords and Phrases

Major Ion Chemistry; Meadow Complexes

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Stable isotopes
Great Basin

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Citation

File Type

text

Language(s)

English

Rights

© 2004 John Wiley & Sons, All rights reserved.


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