The Adige River flows from the Eastern Alps to the Adriatic Sea and the understanding of its fluvial dynamics can be improved by geochemical and O-H isotopic investigation. The most negative isotopic compositions are recorded close to the source (δ18O between −14.1 and −13.8 ‰, δD between −100.3 and −97.0 ‰), and δD and δ18O values generally increase downstream through the upper part (UP, the mountainous sector), stabilizing along the lower part (LP, the alluvial plain) of the river with δ18O between −12.4 and −11.8 ‰, δD between −86.9 and −83.7 ‰. The isotopic variations along the stream path (δ18O-δD vs distance from the source) depict subparallel distributions for all the investigated periods, with less negative values recorded in winter. Total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration shows the lowest value (<100 mg/l) at the river source, jumping to 310 mg/l at the Rio Ram inflow, then decreasing down to the Isarco River confluence; from here, we observed an increase toward the river mouth, with different values in the distinct sampling periods. The lowest values (140–170 mg/l) were recorded during high discharge in spring, whereas higher TDS values (up to 250 mg/l) were recorded during winter low flow conditions. Extreme TDS values were observed in the estuarine samples (up to 450 mg/l), as result of mixing with seawater. The results allow for the identification of distinct water end-members: glacio-nival component(s) characterized by the most negative isotopic composition and extremely low TDS, a rainfall component characterized by intermediate isotopic and elemental composition and groundwater characterized by the less negative isotopic composition and comparatively higher TDS. An additional component is represented by seawater, which is recorded at the lowest reach of the river during drought periods. These contributions variously mix along the stream path in the distinct hydrological periods, and the presented data are a snapshot of the current hydroclimatic conditions. Future investigations will evaluate possible hydrological variations related to meteo-climatic changes. Monitoring is fundamental for future water management to overcome the vanishing of a significant water end-member of the basin, i.e., the glacio-nival reservoir that is severely affected by the ongoing climatic changes.

Geochemistry of the Adige River water from the Eastern Alps to the Adriatic Sea (Italy): evidences for distinct hydrological components and water-rock interactions

BIANCHINI, Gianluca
;
MARCHINA, Chiara;
2016

Abstract

The Adige River flows from the Eastern Alps to the Adriatic Sea and the understanding of its fluvial dynamics can be improved by geochemical and O-H isotopic investigation. The most negative isotopic compositions are recorded close to the source (δ18O between −14.1 and −13.8 ‰, δD between −100.3 and −97.0 ‰), and δD and δ18O values generally increase downstream through the upper part (UP, the mountainous sector), stabilizing along the lower part (LP, the alluvial plain) of the river with δ18O between −12.4 and −11.8 ‰, δD between −86.9 and −83.7 ‰. The isotopic variations along the stream path (δ18O-δD vs distance from the source) depict subparallel distributions for all the investigated periods, with less negative values recorded in winter. Total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration shows the lowest value (<100 mg/l) at the river source, jumping to 310 mg/l at the Rio Ram inflow, then decreasing down to the Isarco River confluence; from here, we observed an increase toward the river mouth, with different values in the distinct sampling periods. The lowest values (140–170 mg/l) were recorded during high discharge in spring, whereas higher TDS values (up to 250 mg/l) were recorded during winter low flow conditions. Extreme TDS values were observed in the estuarine samples (up to 450 mg/l), as result of mixing with seawater. The results allow for the identification of distinct water end-members: glacio-nival component(s) characterized by the most negative isotopic composition and extremely low TDS, a rainfall component characterized by intermediate isotopic and elemental composition and groundwater characterized by the less negative isotopic composition and comparatively higher TDS. An additional component is represented by seawater, which is recorded at the lowest reach of the river during drought periods. These contributions variously mix along the stream path in the distinct hydrological periods, and the presented data are a snapshot of the current hydroclimatic conditions. Future investigations will evaluate possible hydrological variations related to meteo-climatic changes. Monitoring is fundamental for future water management to overcome the vanishing of a significant water end-member of the basin, i.e., the glacio-nival reservoir that is severely affected by the ongoing climatic changes.
Natali, Claudio; Bianchini, Gianluca; Marchina, Chiara; Knöller, Kay
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