Determination of isotopic composition of rainwater to generate local meteoric water line in Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Hydrogen (D) and oxygen (18O) isotopic compositions of precipitation are useful tools to delineate the nature of precipitation, groundwater recharge and climatological investigations. This study investigated the isotopic composition of 12 rainfall occurrences at Thohoyandou, with the objective of generating the local meteoric water line (LMWL) and determining the factors controlling the isotopic composition of the rain. The delta (δ) values for D and 18O of the samples were determined using a Thermo Delta V mass spectrometer connected to a Gasbench. Thohoyandou rainwater showed a wide range of stable isotope values; δD values of the rainwater varied from −76.3‰ to +22.7‰ (SMOW) with a weighted mean of −9.8‰ and δ18O values ranged from −10.78‰ to +3.07‰ (SMOW) with a weighted mean of −2.7‰. δ-values of rainwater were more enriched during winter and more depleted during summer, due to the amount of rainfall and seasonal effect. The LMWL in Thohoyandou is defined by δD = 7.56δ18O + 10.64, which shows a similar slope to the global meteoric water line (GMWL) but with a slightly higher intercept, of 10.64‰ instead of 10‰. This implies that the process of rain formation in Thohoyandou occurred under equilibrium conditions which are not significantly affected by evaporation. The slightly higher d-intercept value above the GMWL reflects an additional supply of recycled moisture across the regions. This implies that there is no continental effect but inland moisture from various water bodies and vegetation.
Keywords: evaporation effect, hydrogen and oxygen isotopes, local meteoric water line, rainwater, Thohoyandou