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Featured article from karst/cave journal

UISK, Simferopol
Speleology and Karstology, 2011, Issue 9, p. 14-21
Isotopic composition of atmospheric precipitation and karstic springs of the north-west slope of the Crimean Mountains

Atmospheric precipitation was sampled for isotopic analyses according to GNIP protocol at two stations in Crimea,  Ukraine: Simferopol (24 months) and Chatyrdag (15 months). In addition, several karstic springs and one well tapping deep karstic  aquifer were sampled. The δD vs. δ 18 O relationship is only slightly differs from global Meteoric Water Line. Variable degrees of  correlation with the air temperature and the precipitation amount suggest that the isotopic composition of precipitation is affected  by several processes (e.g., air temperature and supply of moisture from different sources). Interestingly, drastically different make-ups of precipitation were observed simultaneously at two stations located only 23 km apart.  Waters in seven karstic springs discharging at Dolgorukovsky massif (2), Chatirdag (1), Baidarsky basin (3), and Mangup-kale  (1) have isotopic compositions that follow local meteoric water line but are lighter than weighted annual mean values for their  respective catchment areas. Isotopic composition of the underground stream in Krasnaya (Red) cave is nearly constant and thus,  decoupled from changes in both the isotopic composition of atmospheric precipitation in the recharge area and the flow regime  (flood or base flow). This suggests a strong buffering and homogenizing role of the soil cover and the epikarst zone, as well as  the predominant role of winter recharge on these karst massifs. Still lighter isotopic composition of deep karstic water tapped by  a borehole is tentatively explained by old, pre-Holocene age of this water.