Water Isotopes

Sara, Izzy, Cecilia

Isotope fractionation has long been used to determine sources of water within a system. This is possible due to different water sources (precipitation, groundwater, and glacial water) having different ratios of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes. The two predominant oxygen isotopes are 16O and the heavier 18O, whilst the two hydrogen isotopes are 1H and 2H (deuterium).

Our group the Water Isotope Group (WIG) seeks to understand the different sources of water in our field sites in the Peruvian bofedales. With this knowledge, we will understand how critical glacial water is in sustaining the bofedales during dry seasons.

To accomplish this we analyzed water samples from Peru on the Picarro Isotope Analyzer. This gave us measurements of the isotopic concentrations; the more depleted a sample was in 18O, the stronger of a glacial signal it had.

We are excited about what the results of this study will say about the hydrologic system in the bofedales!