Spring response to precipitation events using δ(18)O and δ(2)H in the Tanour catchment, NW Jordan

Isotopes Environ Health Stud. 2016 Dec;52(6):682-93. doi: 10.1080/10256016.2016.1159205. Epub 2016 May 30.


The Tanour spring is one of the several karst springs located in the northern part of Jordan. Water samples from the Tanour spring and precipitation were collected in the area of Ajloun in NW Jordan for the analysis of stable oxygen and hydrogen isotopes to evaluate the spring response to precipitation events. Rainwater and snow samples were collected from different elevations during winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. In addition, spring samples were collected between December 2014 and March 2015. δ(18)O values in rainwater vary from -3.26 to -17.34 ‰ (average: -7.84 ± 3.23 ‰), while δ(2)H values range between -4.4 and -110.4 ‰ (average: -35.7 ± 25.0 ‰). Deuterium excess ranges from 17.8 to 34.1 ‰ (average: 27.1 ± 4.0 ‰). The Local Meteoric Water Line for the study area was calculated to be δ(2)H = 7.66*δ(18)O + 24.43 (R(2) = 0.98). Pre-event spring discharge showed variation in δ(18)O (range -6.29 to -7.17 ‰; average -6.58 ± 0.19 ‰) and δ(2)H values (range -28.8 to -32.7 ‰; average: -30.5 ± 1.0 ‰). In contrast, δ(18)O and δ(2)H rapidly changed to more negative values during rainfall and snowmelt events and persisted for several days before returning to background values. Spring water temperature, spring discharge, and turbidity followed the trend in isotopic composition during and after the precipitation events. The rapid change in the isotopic composition, spring discharge, water temperature, and turbidity in response to recharge events is related to fast water travel times and low storage capacity in the conduit system of the karst aquifer. Based on the changes in the isotopic composition of spring water after the precipitation events, the water travel time in the aquifer is in the order of 5-11 days.

Keywords: Jordan; deuterium excess; hydrogen-2; karst system; meteoric water line; oxygen-18; precipitation; water travel time.

MeSH terms

  • Deuterium / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Groundwater / analysis
  • Jordan
  • Oxygen Isotopes / analysis*
  • Rain*
  • Seasons*


  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Deuterium