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Conference Papers Year : 2015

Water sources in a small Mediterranean watershed traced back with Sr isotopes, major and trace elements


In the context of climate change, this study presents the ability of major/trace elements together with strontiumisotopes to trace back water paths at small scale and to deconvolve the geochemical signal of a small watershedsubject to intense flash floods episodes (Peyne, Hérault, France). Two small sub-basins draining distinct lithologiesin their heads (Plio-Villafranchian conglomerate versus Triassic gypsum-rich marls and dolomites) and the sameMiocene lithology downstream are investigated.Major elements and Ca/Na vs. Mg/Na ratios classically applied at large scale to distinguish carbonate from silicateweathering, allow here discriminating the three main lithologies from the two sub-basins. Trace elements Rband Sr coupled to calcium, also allow this lithological discrimination but in addition the Ca/Rb vs. Sr/Rb tracersappear to be much more discriminant for the various hydrological conditions. Thus, in combination with detailedlithological descriptions, they allow identifying the different facies that imprint the water signature through water-rock interaction according to the hydrological conditions.Strontium isotopes and Rb/Sr ratio, discriminate more precisely the drained lithologies of the 2 sub-basins. Firstly,the 87Sr/86Sr ratios allow identifying the nature of the lithologies and their main component(s) contributing to theSr budget in water and thus imprint the isotopic signature. Secondly, Sr isotopes evidenced two distinct Miocenefacies: the detritric faction (sandy marls), and the marine carbonates.The geochemical signatures of the brook samples draining both compartments were compared to the signatureof the Peyne River outlet just before the confluence into the Hérault River. It appears that the signature of thePeyne River, integrating all the water draining the basin, is relatively stable whatever the hydrological conditionsand mainly marked by the Miocene formations. Sr isotopes further highlight that this signature seems to resultfrom the mixing of both Miocene facies present in the lower part of the Peyne watershed, i.e. the sandy marls andthe carbonates. The typical signatures of the Plio-Villafanchian conglomerates and Triassic gypsiferous marls anddolomites of the headwaters of each sub-basin are completely hidden by the Miocene signatures. This should berelated to the large drainage area of the Miocene compared to other lithologies, despite the high solubility of thegypsum formations releasing large quantities of dissolved elements in solution.Understanding water paths at small scale is even more efficient when the geochemical approach is coupled with adetailed geological description. Indeed, the geochemical tracers are extremely dependent on the facies sequences(morphology) and of the soil nature (mineralogical composition), this is particularly sensitive at small scale.In the context of climate change increasing the intensity of rain events in the Mediterranean region, and resultingin catastrophic floods events (flash floods), tracing the origin of water contributing to the runoff is of primaryimportance and this must be investigated at small scale. Geochemical and isotopic fingerprinting thus constituteexcellent tools which can help to define the area of interest to be monitored in the framework of flood forecast andwarning networks


Global Changes
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hal-01118622 , version 1 (19-02-2015)


  • HAL Id : hal-01118622 , version 1


Emmanuelle Petelet-Giraud, J.M. Luck, D. Ben Othman, C. Joseph, Philippe Négrel. Water sources in a small Mediterranean watershed traced back with Sr isotopes, major and trace elements. EGU General Assembly 2015, Apr 2015, Vienne, Austria. pp.EGU2015-10568. ⟨hal-01118622⟩
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