Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 83–100

Transit times of water in soil lysimeters from modeling of oxygen-18

  • Göran Lindström
  • Allan Rodhe
Regular Section

DOI: 10.1007/BF00482751

Cite this article as:
Lindström, G. & Rodhe, A. Water Air Soil Pollut (1992) 65: 83. doi:10.1007/BF00482751


A proper description of water pathways and transit times is important in the simulation of groundwater acidification using hydrochemical models. A simple water balance model, describing water flow and transit times in different soil layers, was developed and tested by the use of the stable isotope 18O as a natural tracer in soil lysimeters. Drainage was collected from lysimeters of three depths: 15, 40, and 80 cm, from two sites in the Stubbetorp research basin in south-eastern Sweden. The content of 18O in the precipitation and in the drainage from the lysimeters was measured during 2 yr. 18O was regarded as an ideal tracer, and its concentration in the drainage was modeled using the concentration in the precipitation as input. The percolation from each soil layer was assumed to depend on the inflow and the soil moisture storage in the layer. The most important model parameter, the field capacity, was derived from field information. Sensitivity analysis showed that the model was rather insensitive to other parameter values. Although simple, the model gave good results, both for the flow of water and 18O. The best results were obtained, when ideal mixing in the upper horizons of the soil was combined with piston flow at greater depths. Preferential flow was not found to be of great importance, nor was immobile water. Particle flow velocities and transit times in the soil lysimeters were simulated. The average particle flow velocities were about 0.6 cm d−1. The use of a dynamic model made it possible to simulate the temporal variations in transit times for water in the soil lysimeters. The mean transit times for the 80 cm lysimeter ranged from about 3 to 6 mo with an average value of 4 mo.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Göran Lindström
    • 1
  • Allan Rodhe
    • 2
  1. 1.Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological InstituteNorrköpingSweden
  2. 2.Section of HydrologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden