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Geochemical evolution of groundwater in the Pleistocene limestone aquifer of Barbados

by Jones, Ian Christopher.

Abstract (Summary)
Unique constraints on seasonal and spatial variations in recharge to the Pleistocene limestone aquifer of Barbados are obtained from the analysis of oxygen isotopic compositions of groundwater and rainwater. Conventional methods of estimating recharge are based on groundwater chloride variations, coastal groundwater discharge, and potential evapotranspiration. These methods typically yield estimates of recharge for Barbados that range from 9% to 20% of average annual rainfall, with significant uncertainties that arise from poorly constrained model input parameters. Due to the low relief and tropical climate of Barbados, variations in rainwater and groundwater ?18O values are primarily influenced by the amount of rainfall, with negligible temperature or altitude effects. Composite monthly rainwater ?18O values are inversely related to rainfall amount while groundwater ?18O values show little seasonal variability. Rainwater ?18O values are equivalent to groundwater values only at the peak of the wet season. By mass-balance, the difference between groundwater and weighted mean rainwater ?18O values gives recharge values. These values are in general agreement with estimates by conventional methods (10-20%), and provide unique additional information 8 including: 1) recharge is restricted to the wettest 1-3 months of the year; and 2) there is less recharge at higher elevations. The effective shift in ?18O values between contemporaneous rainwater and groundwater via recharge is a useful tool for estimating temporal and spatial variability in recharge, and must be considered in paleoclimatic studies where climate inferences are based on groundwater ?18O values preserved in the geologic record.
Bibliographical Information:

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School:The University of Texas at Austin

School Location:USA - Texas

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:groundwater geology stratigraphic limestone barbados

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