Evaluating the Relative Importance of Groundwater Recharge Sources in a Subtropical Alluvial Plain Using Tracer-Based Ternary End Member Mixing Analysis (EMMA)

Abstract

In Taiwan’s humid climate, proximal fan groundwater (PFG) is mainly sourced from local precipitation (LP), mountain front recharge (MFR), and mountain block recharge (MBR). This study evaluates the relative importance of the above sources’ respective contributions to the PFG of the Langyang alluvial plain (LAP), northeastern Taiwan. To this end, we first identify stable isotopic characteristics of these target waters and evaluate the hydrological relations among them. Further, we employ ternary end member mixing analysis (EMMA) based on δ 18O and electrical conductivity to semi-quantitatively calculate contributing fractions and amounts of water for respective LP, MFR, and MBR end members. EMMA results indicate that the respective contribution fractions of LP, MFR, and MBR to PFG at the LAP are approximately 28, 60, and 12 %, respectively. Further, we employ the obtained contribution fractions to understand the corresponding water amounts of each end-member contributed to PFG. In total, 325 × 106 m3 of water recharges PFG annually; of which, 226 × 106 m3/yr. is from MFR, 76 × 106 m3/yr. from LP, and 23 × 106 m3/yr. from MBR. MFR is clearly the greatest source of water at the LAP and local water resource management and protection authorities should concentrate their energies on this important contributor to groundwater. To keep these results in context, limitations to the EMMA approach are evaluated in the text.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are very grateful to anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor for their constructive comments, which greatly improved our manuscript. Work on this paper is divided into two parts. That focusing on meteoric water is an achievement attributable to assistance from the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC 101-2116-M-005-001 and NSC 102-2116-M-005-001) and that regarding groundwater is attributable to assistance from the Central Geological Survey, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan (B10249).

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Correspondence to Tsung-Ren Peng.

Appendix

Appendix

Table listing stable isotopic composition and EC concentration of mountain groundwaters (MBR water) represented by MGN and MGS waters of this study

MBR water Sample site δ 18O δ 2H EC Sampling date
(‰) (‰) (μS/cm)
MGN Well-1 −8.5 −50.9 962 August 2006
Well-2 −8.4 −50.1 948 August 2006
Well-3 −8.4 −51.8 952 August 2006
Well-4 −8.5 −50.0 943 August 2006
Well-5 −8.2 −48.7 928 August 2006
Well-1 −8.6 −49.4 951 November 2006
Well-2 −8.5 −51.4   November 2006
Well-3 −8.4 −49.8 1005 November 2006
Well-4 −8.3 −49.0 922 November 2006
Well-5 −8.2 −49.5 953 November 2006
Well-6 −8.1 −50.2 975 November 2006
Well-7 −8.3 −47.5 973 November 2006
Well-8 −8.3 −48.3 917 November 2006
Well-1 −8.2 −49.4   March 2007
Well-2 −8.2 −54.0   March 2007
Well-3 −8.4 −49.1   March 2007
Well-4 −8.5 −42.7   March 2007
Well-5 −8.3 −55.6   March 2007
Well-6 −8.3 −49.9   March 2007
Well-7 −8.2 −49.1   March 2007
Well-8 −8.2 −52.8   March 2007
Well-1 −8.0 −43.1 882 July 2007
Well-2 −8.3 −48.5 939 July 2007
Well-3 −8.2 −43.1 964 July 2007
Well-4 −8.2 −50.1 993 July 2007
Well-5 −8.0 −40.6 947 July 2007
Well-6 −8.3 −44.3 976 July 2007
Well-7 −8.0 −46.9 924 July 2007
Well-8 −8.2 −50.1 973 July 2007
Well-9 −8.2 −49.8 1354 July 2013
Mean −8.3 −48.9 971  
MGS Spring-1 −6.0 −40.0   December 1991
Spring-1 −5.4 −47.9   March 1992
Spring-1 −5.8 −46.5   July 1992
Spring-1 −5.4 −45.7   November 1992
Spring-1 −5.2 −45.8   February 1993
Spring-1 −5.1 −42.1   May 1993
Spring-1 −5.3 −41.7   August 1993
Spring-1 −5.3 −46.4   November 1993
Spring-1 −5.3 −34.8   January 1994
Spring-1 −5.4 −47.6   February 1994
Spring-1 −5.0 −46.6 3710 July 2013
Spring-1 −5.6 −45.8 3160 November 2013
Mean −5.4 −44.2 3435  

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Peng, T., Huang, C., Chen, J. et al. Evaluating the Relative Importance of Groundwater Recharge Sources in a Subtropical Alluvial Plain Using Tracer-Based Ternary End Member Mixing Analysis (EMMA). Water Resour Manage 30, 3861–3878 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-016-1393-8

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Keywords

  • Mountain front recharge (MFR)
  • Mountain block recharge (MBR)
  • End member mixing analysis (EMMA)
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Taiwan