Oxygen isotope and geochemical variations in the Missouri River
Oxygen isotope ratios in streamflow of the Missouri River basin vary geographically due to differences in source precipitation and the integration of waters from upstream regions. Average δ18O values in the Missouri River main stem systematically increase from less than –17‰ in the headwaters to about –9‰ in the lower basin. Seasonal variations at a given location result from fluctuations in meteoric precipitation, residence time in reservoirs and groundwater systems, evaporation, and snowmelt.
Average water chemistry values are successfully predicted for the upstream stations of two reaches on the lower Missouri River based on changes in discharge along each reach and water quality measurements collected at the downstream stations. Source regions for some dissolved ions found in the lower Missouri River are also identified. Sodium and sulfate originate predominantly from the basin above Sioux City, Iowa, while nitrate is largely derived from agricultural regions below Sioux City.
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