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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


1.5 EARTH AND RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, Environmental sciences, 2.1 CIVIL ENGINEERING, 2.7 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, Environmental and geological engineering


In recent years, the concept of “isoscapes” has been used to describe spatiotemporal stable isotope distributions within natural environments including groundwater systems at multiple scales. This study presents an updated groundwater δ18O isoscape for the Republic of Ireland and describes the climatic and geological drivers influencing 18O composition. In all, 142 geographically and geologically representative groundwater installations were sampled and analysed, in addition to 35 samples from six nested boreholes. Geospatially, Irish groundwater exhibits high δ18O values in southern and western coastal regions, becoming progressively depleted inland before reaching lowest measured values along the eastern coast, equating to a national groundwater δ18O profile range of approximately 3‰. Groundwater δ18O composition is primarily driven by location with respect to orographically influenced rainfall deposition and annual precipitation volume, with a bias towards winter recharge. Results also demonstrate that local/regional (hydro)geological setting exerts a secondary influence on δ18O composition via infiltration and recharge mechanisms. “Flashy” groundwater systems (e.g. karst limestones) are more likely to exhibit seasonal groundwater δ18O patterns, whereas low productivity systems with high residence times (e.g. granites), tend to display a dampened composition to groundwater recharge and exhibit more temporally constant δ18O values. The derived δ18O isoscape enhances current understanding of what is a geologically distinct groundwater setting, whilst also potentially serving as a δ18O “sentinel” for continental Europe, with respect to both groundwater and precipitation, due to Ireland’s geographic location.