Measurement of chloride concentration and water equivalent in precipitation and recharge at a site can be extrapolated to determine available moisture in a nearby basin. This method also may be extrapolated to a basin with similar climatic characteristics if precipitation, vegetation, and topographic data are available. The average accuracy of the total of evaporation, recharge, and runoff (assuming no storage) was about 10% of total precipitation. Soil-moisture measurements indicate the entire 10% error in moisture balance can be attributed to annual changes in storage. Data requirements for the method are considerably less than data requirements for energy-budget methods to determine available moisture. Potential applications of the method to hydrologic problem-solving are: 1. (1) Estimating total available moisture from chloride concentrations in groundwater or surface water or both. 2. (2) Modeling paleoclimate scenarios and evaluating their correctness by comparison with paleo-groundwater chloride concentrations. 3. (3) Providing an independent comparison for water budgets obtained by energy-budget methods. Obviously the method cannot be applied readily to systems with a lithologic source of chloride. Most systems primarily consisting of tuff, intrusive volcanic rock, nonmarine sediments, quartzite, and other metamorphic rocks will be suitable for application of the model. ?? 1986.
Additional publication details
Use of the chloride ion in determining hydrologic-basin water budgets - A 3-year case study in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, U.S.A.