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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-647
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
21 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Groundwater origin, flow regime and geochemical evolution in arid endorheic watersheds: a case study from the Qaidam Basin, Northwest China
Yong Xiao1,2, Jingli Shao1, Shaun K. Frape2, Yali Cui1, Xueya Dang3, Shengbin Wang4, and Yonghong Ji5 1School of Water Resources and Environment, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing, 100083, China
2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, N2L 3G1, Canada
3Xi'an Center of Geological Survey, China Geological Survey, Xi'an, 710054, China
4Bureau of Qinghai Environmental Geological Prospecting, Xining, 810007, China
5Lunan Geo-Engineering Exploration Institute of Shandong Province, Yanzhou, 272100, China
Abstract. Groundwater origin, flow and geochemical evolution in the Golmud River watershed of the Qaidam Basin was assessed using hydrogeochemical, isotopic and numerical approaches. Results show groundwater in the basin originates from precipitation and melt water in the mountainous areas of the Tibetan Plateau. Modern water was found in the alluvial fan and shallow aquifers of the loess plain. Deep confined groundwater was recharged by paleo-water during the late Pleistocene and Holocene under a cold climate. Groundwater in the low-lying depression of the central basin is composed of paleo-brines migrated from the western part of the basin due to tectonic uplift in the geological past. Groundwater chemistry is controlled by water-rock interaction and evaporation-salt precipitation, and varies from fresh to brine with the water types evolving from HCO3·Cl-Ca·Mg·Na to Cl-Na, Cl-K-Na and Cl-Mg type waters along the flow path. The groundwater flow pattern is closely related to stratigraphic control and lithological distribution. Three hierarchical groundwater flow systems, namely local, intermediate and regional, were identified using numerical modelling. The quantity of water discharge from these three systems accounts for 82.69 %, 14.26 % and 3.05 %, respectively, of the total groundwater quantity of the watershed. This study can enhance the understanding of groundwater origin, circulation and evolution in the Qaidam Basin as well as other arid endorheic watersheds in northwest China and elsewhere worldwide.

Citation: Xiao, Y., Shao, J., Frape, S. K., Cui, Y., Dang, X., Wang, S., and Ji, Y.: Groundwater origin, flow regime and geochemical evolution in arid endorheic watersheds: a case study from the Qaidam Basin, Northwest China, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-647, in review, 2017.
Yong Xiao et al.
Yong Xiao et al.
Yong Xiao et al.

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