Aquatic Geochemistry

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 137–162 | Cite as

The Origin and MgCl2–NaCl Variations in an Athalassic Sag Pond: Insights from Chemical and Isotopic Data

  • Tiziano Boschetti
  • Salih Muhammad Awadh
  • Emma Salvioli-Mariani


The examination of past and new chemical–isotopic data (2H/1H–18O/16O, 11B/10B and 87Sr/86Sr ratios) shows the meteoric origin of the Sawa Lake (Muthanna Governorate, Iraq) and its connection with the local aquifers, which feed the lake via the groundwater emerging from its floor through fault systems. The chemical and isotopic evaporation models are traced by geochemical computer codes by using a different composition of some potential inflows to the lake (e.g., the Euphrates River and Dammam aquifer). The main product of the chemical evaporation models is gypsum, as confirmed by the mineralogical examination of the sediment and the surrounding outcrops. A strong 18O–2H enrichment is a consequence of the evaporation effect in arid regions; δ18O–Cl models and δ11B = + 23.4‰ exclude the contribution of any seawater-derived fluids. This latter value along with 87Sr/86Sr = 0.707989 suggests a mixed origin from the Eocene–Miocene aquifers. The isotope and chemical evaporation paths from the meteorically recharged sources match the lake composition. However, compositional switches from NaCl toward MgCl2 occurred in the last decade and are related to post-drought periods, showing that the interaction of the recharging waters with the local soils (Na–Mg exchange and/or the leaching of the top layer salts) have a role in the chemical composition. This demonstrates that the lake is significantly influenced by climatic variations.


Sawa Lake Evaporation models Iraq Water Boron isotope 



We would like to thank Dr. Enrico Selmo (University of Parma), Dr. Edward Muller (Tetra Tech, Inc.), and Prof. Michael Wieser (University of Calgary) for their dedication and professionalism on water, boron, and strontium isotope analysis, respectively. Additionally, we are so grateful to Mr. Ali Ramthan for helping us in the field work and sampling and to Prof. John M. McArthur (University College London) for providing the look-up table Version 5. Our thanks and gratitude to Dr. John Mason for his review of the proofreading. Finally, we would like to thank the four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental SustainabilityUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Geology, College of ScienceUniversity of BaghdadBaghdadIraq

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