Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 3287–3300 | Cite as

Mineralogical, hydrogeochemical and isotopic characteristics of the Žveplenica sulphide karstic spring (Trebuša Valley, NW Slovenia)

  • Mojca Zega
  • Boštjan Rožič
  • Martin Gaberšek
  • Tjaša Kanduč
  • Petra Žvab Rožič
  • Timotej Verbovšek
Original Article


Sulphide springs in Slovenia are very rare and they form a peculiar feature in a carbonate setting. The basic geological, hydrogeochemical and isotopic characteristics of the Žveplenica sulphide dolomite spring (Trebuša Valley, NW Slovenia) were investigated, along with the geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of the sediment deposited at the spring location. Geological mapping defined a small, structurally and lithologically isolated dolomitic aquifer. The major groundwater geochemical composition is HCO3  > Mg2+ > Ca2+, indicating dissolution of dolomite. The concentration of SO4 2− was very low. The groundwater was generally close to saturation with respect to calcite and dolomite. Geochemical modelling and other analyses indicated sulphur to originate not from gypsum and/or anhydrite, but from some other sources. We suggest the origin of sulphur be the dissolution of volcanogenic sulphidic enrichment in a highly variable, Ladinian clastic-limestone-volcanic rock association, forming the basis of early Carnian Cordevolian dolomite, from which the spring discharges. The measured δ13CDIC value of −11.9 ‰ indicates groundwater with a contribution of degraded organic matter and dissolved inorganic carbon in the aquifer. The isotopic composition of oxygen (δ18OH2O), hydrogen (δDH2O) and tritium was −8.1 ‰, δD −51.4 ‰ and 3H 3.64 TU, respectively. The δ18O and δD values indicated recharge from precipitation with H2S exsolution, while the 3H activity shows groundwater older than 40 years. Mineralogical and geochemical analysis of sediment showed a typical carbonate (mostly dolomite) composition, which was in agreement with the geochemical and isotopic composition of the groundwater of the spring, indicating a deep sourced inorganic form of sulphur such as pyrite.


Sulphide spring Karst groundwater Hydrogeochemistry Stable isotopes Slovenia 



The authors are grateful to Mr. Stojan Žigon for technical support, to the Programme research group “Cycling of nutrients and contaminants in the environment, mass balances and modelling environmental processes and risk analysis” (P1-0143), and to the Slovenian Research Agency for financial support of projects Z1-3670 entitled “Hydrogeochemistry and evolution of groundwaters in karstic and fractured aquifers” and “Comparative study of ecosystem management and services in contrasting Slovenian freshwater system” L2-6778. The authors would also like to thank the Municipality of Tolmin for its financial contribution to the project and to the Tolmin Angling Club for providing us with appropriate equipment. Sincere thanks go to Dr. Anthony R. Byrne for linguistic corrections.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mojca Zega
    • 1
  • Boštjan Rožič
    • 2
  • Martin Gaberšek
    • 3
  • Tjaša Kanduč
    • 4
  • Petra Žvab Rožič
    • 2
  • Timotej Verbovšek
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature ConservationNova Gorica Regional UnitNova GoricaSlovenia
  2. 2.Department of Geology, Faculty of Natural Sciences and EngineeringUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Hrastnik pri Trojanah 1aTrojaneSlovenia
  4. 4.Department of Environmental ScienceJožef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  5. 5.Department of Geology Faculty of Natural Sciences and EngineeringUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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