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Identifying Karst Aquifer Recharge Areas using Environmental Isotopes: A Case Study in Central Italy
Giuseppe Sappa 1 , Stefania Vitale 2 , Flavia Ferranti 1
1  Department of Civil, Building and Environmental Engineering (DICEA), Sapienza University of Rome, piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy
2  Department of Earth Sciences (DST), Sapienza University of Rome, piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy

Published: 15 September 2018 by MDPI in Geosciences
MDPI, Volume 8; 10.3390/geosciences8090351
Abstract: Water resources management is one of the most important challenges worldwide because water represents a vital resource for sustaining life and the environment. With the aim of sustainable groundwater management, the identification of aquifer recharge areas is a useful tool for water resources protection. In a well-developed karst aquifer, environmental isotopes provide support for identifying aquifer recharge areas, residence time and interconnections between aquifer systems. This study deals with the use of environmental isotopes to identify the main recharge area of a karst aquifer in the Upper Valley of Aniene River (Central Italy). The analysis of 18O/16O and 2H/H values and their spatial distribution make it possible to trace back groundwater recharge areas based on average isotope elevations. The Inverse Hydrogeological Balance Method was used to validate spring recharge elevations obtained by the use of stable isotopes. Areas impacted by direct and rapid rainfall recharge into the study area were delineated, showing groundwater flowpaths from the boundaries to the core of the aquifer. The results of this study demonstrate the contribution that spatial and temporal isotope changes can provide to the identification of groundwater flowpaths in a karst basin, taking into account the hydrogeological setting.
Keywords: stable isotope, Karst Aquifers, environmental tracer, Recharge Area
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