Isotope Hydrology of Very Saline Lakes

J. R. Gat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The heavier isotopic species of water are enriched in a water body exposed to evaporation, such as a lake, as a result of the preferred evaporation of the lighter water molecule. Water evaporates from a virtually saturated sublayer at the liquid surface, through a region where transport occurs predominantly by molecular diffusion into a fully turbulent atmosphere where there is no further isotope separation. The enrichment in heavy isotopes during the evaporation process marks the surface waters in a unique way relative to the meteoric waters. These evaporated waters are characterized by a relative deuterium deficiency resulting from the lower oxygen isotope fractionation during evaporation as compared to fractionation during equilibrium phase transitions, such as the ones that are involved in the rain processes. The presence of high salt concentrations affects the evaporation and the accompanying isotope fractionation process in a number of ways including low saturation-vapor pressure changes and changes in surface tension, density, and viscosity that affect the wave structure. In addition, high salinity results in changes in the vertical stability and stratification that affect the mixing within the water column and thus the overall water balance, temperature, etc. These, in turn, may influence the isotopic composition of the system under consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopments in Sedimentology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology


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