A small stream in the Great Plains of USA was sampled to understand the streamflow components following intense precipitation and the influence of water storage structures in the drainage basin. Precipitation, stream, ponds, ground-water and soil moisture were sampled for determination of isotopic (D, 18O) and chemical (Cl, SO4) composition before and after two intense rain events. Following the first storm event, flow at the downstream locations was generated primarily through shallow subsurface flow and runoff whereas in the headwaters region - where a pond is located in the stream channel - shallow ground-water and pond outflow contributed to the flow. The distinct isotopic signatures of precipitation and the evaporated pond water allowed separation of the event water from the other sources that contributed to the flow. Similarly, variations in the Cl and SO4 concentrations helped identify the relative contributions of ground-water and soil moisture to the streamflow. The relationship between deuterium excess and Cl or SO4 content reveals that the early contributions from a rain event to streamflow depend upon the antecedent climatic conditions and the position along the stream channel within the watershed. The design of this study, in which data from several locations within a watershed were collected, shows that in small streams changes in relative contributions from ground water and soil moisture complicate hydrograph separation, with surface-water bodies providing additional complexity. It also demonstrates the usefulness of combined chemical and isotopic methods in hydrologic investigations, especially the utility of the deuterium excess parameter in quantifying the relative contributions of various source components to the stream flow. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Precipitation induced stream flow: An event based chemical and isotopic study of a small stream in the Great Plains region of the USA