Use of environmental isotope tracer and GIS techniques to estimate basin recharge

Abdulganiu A.A Odunmbaku, University of Texas at El Paso


The extensive use of ground water only began with the advances in pumping technology at the early portion of 20th Century. Groundwater provides the majority of fresh water supply for municipal, agricultural and industrial uses, primarily because of little to no treatment it requires. Estimating the volume of groundwater available in a basin is a daunting task, and no accurate measurements can be made. Usually water budgets and simulation models are primarily used to estimate the volume of water in a basin.^ Precipitation, land surface cover and subsurface geology are factors that affect recharge; these factors affect percolation which invariably affects groundwater recharge. Depending on precipitation, soil chemistry, groundwater chemical composition, gradient and depth, the age and rate of recharge can be estimated. This present research proposes to estimate the recharge in Mimbres, Tularosa and Diablo Basin using the chloride environmental isotope; chloride mass-balance approach and GIS. It also proposes to determine the effect of elevation on recharge rate.^ Mimbres and Tularosa Basin are located in southern New Mexico State, and extend southward into Mexico. Diablo Basin is located in Texas in extends southward. This research utilizes the chloride mass balance approach to estimate the recharge rate through collection of groundwater data from wells, and precipitation. The data were analysed statistically to eliminate duplication, outliers, and incomplete data. Cluster analysis, piper diagram and statistical significance were performed on the parameters of the groundwater; the infiltration rate was determined using chloride mass balance technique. The data was then analysed spatially using ArcGIS10.^ Regions of active recharge were identified in Mimbres and Diablo Basin, but this could not be clearly identified in Tularosa Basin. CMB recharge for Tularosa Basin yields 0.04037mm/yr (0.0016in/yr), Diablo Basin was 0.047mm/yr (0.0016 in/yr), and 0.2153mm/yr (0.00848in/yr) for Mimbres Basin. The elevation where active recharge occurs was determined to be 1,500m for Mimbres and Tularosa Basin and 1,200m for Diablo Basin. The results obtained in this study were consistent with result obtained by other researchers working in basins with similar semiarid mountainous conditions, thereby validating the applicability of CMB in the three basins.^ Keywords: Recharge, chloride mass balance, elevation, Mimbres, Tularosa, Diablo, Basin, GIS, chloride, elevation.^

Subject Area

Hydrology|Water Resource Management|Engineering, Environmental|Remote Sensing

Recommended Citation

Odunmbaku, Abdulganiu A.A, "Use of environmental isotope tracer and GIS techniques to estimate basin recharge" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3552269.