Isotopes and sustainability of ground water resources, North China Plain

Ground Water. 2005 Jul-Aug;43(4):485-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2005.0038.x.


Ground water in deep confined aquifers is one of the major water resources for agricultural, industrial, and domestic uses in the North China Plain. Detailed information on ground water age and recharge is vital for the proper management of these water resources, and to this end, we used carbon 14 of dissolved inorganic carbon and tritium in water to measure the age and determine the recharge areas of ground water in the North China Plain. These isotopic data suggest that most ground water in the piedmont part of the North China Plain is <40 years old and is recharged locally. In contrast, ground water in the central and littoral portions of the North China Plain is 10,000 to 25,000 years old. The delta18O (deltaD) values of this ground water are 1.7 per thousand (11 per thousand) less than that in the piedmont plain ground water and possibly reflect water recharged during a cooler climate during the last glaciation. The temperature of this recharge, based on delta18O values, ranges from 3.7 degrees C to 8.4 degrees C, compared to 12 degrees C to 13 degrees C of modern recharge water. The isotopic data set combined indicates that ground water in the central and littoral part of the North China Plain is being mined under non-steady state conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Radioisotopes / analysis
  • China
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Deuterium / analysis
  • Fresh Water / chemistry*
  • Oxygen Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Radioisotopes / analysis*
  • Tritium / analysis
  • Water Supply*


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Oxygen Radioisotopes
  • Radioisotopes
  • Tritium
  • Deuterium