Stable isotopes of water have been previously used in catchment studies to separate rain-event water from pre-event groundwater. However, there are a lack of studies at the smaller scale looking at the separation of event water from pre-event water. This is particularly relevant for heavy clay soil systems through which the movement of water is uncertain but is thought to be rainwater-dominated. The data presented here were collected at a rural site in the south-west of England. The historic rainfall at the site was isotopically varied but similar to the global meteoric water line, with annual weighted means of -37‰ for d2H and -5.7‰ for d18O and with no seasonal variation. Drainage was sampled from the inter-flow (surface runoff?+?lateral through-flow) and drain-flow (55?cm deep mole drains) pathways of two 1?ha lysimeters during two rainfall events, which had d2H values of -68‰ and -92‰, respectively. The d2H values of the lysimeter drainage water suggest that there was no contribution of event water during the first, small discharge (Q) event; however, the second larger event did show isotopic variation in d2H values negatively related to Q indicating that rainwater was contributing to Q. A hydrograph separation indicated that only 49–58% of the inter-flow and 18–25% of the drain-flow consisted of event water. This was surprising given that these soil types are considered retentive of soil water. More work is needed on heavy clay soils to understand better the nature of water movement from these systems.
Granger, S. J., Bol, R., Meier-Augenstein, W., Leng, M. J., Kemp, H. F., Heaton, T. H. E., & White, S. M. (2010). The hydrological response of heavy clay grassland soils to rainfall in south-west England using δ2H. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 24(5), 475-482. https://doi.org/10.1002/rcm.4281