Desert isotope hydrology: Water sources of the Sinai Desert

Joel R. Gat, Arie Issar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The isotopic composition of groundwater sources of the Sinai Desert was surveyed. The results are characterized by a large spread in the oxygen-18 and deuterium abundances, compared to equivalent systems from less arid climates. The variability reflects differences in the altitude at which precipitation occurred, the evaporation from stagnant surface waters prior to their infiltration into the ground and admixtures of waters which are not of meteoric or recent origin. It is difficult to distinguish between water sources recharged by direct infiltration and others recharged through the intermediary of flood waters, on the basis of their isotope composition. The isotopio composition enables a clearcut distinction, however, between paleowaters and more recently recharged groundwaters. Among the conclusions: paleowaters play a central role in the deep aquifers of desert areas; direct rain recharge to aquifers is widespread; surface waters which have undergone extensive evaporation contribute their water to local perched aquifers which are found along their route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1131
Number of pages15
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1974
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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