Multiple isotopic and hydrogeochemical tracers were utilized to understand the recharge sources and geochemical evolution of groundwater in the Quaternary aquifer beneath Jinchang city and the adjacent Gobi desert area. The groundwater shows markedly depleted stable isotopic composition compared to modern rainfall. The signature of groundwaters from Jinchang and the northern Gobi desert area differ clearly from that of the alluvial fan in the south Yongchang basin and modern rainfall, and has lower or non-detectable (3)H activity, implying that the aquifer is likely maintained by palaeowater. This groundwater in the Gobi desert has a (14)C age older than 12 ka, indicating that the groundwater resources are non-renewable. The build-up of dissolved solids through evaporation is a major control on groundwater composition, and the dominant anion species change systematically from HCO(3)(-), SO(4)(2-) to Cl(-), but cations from weathering of albite, calcite, dolomite and gypsum also make a significant contribution. The scientific results have important implications for groundwater management in Jinchang city and as well as in the Shiyang River basin under China's West Development Strategy. It is recommended that the water allocation program of diverting water from the Dongda river to the Minqin basin be reconsidered. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
; Pan, Feng
; Chen, Lihua
; Ding, Zhenyu
; He, Jianhua
; Zhou, Kunpeng
; Huang, Tianming] Lanzhou Univ, Minist Educ, Key Lab Western Chinas Environm Syst, Lanzhou 730000, Peoples R China
; [Chen, Lihua] NW Univ Nationalities, Coll Chem Engn, Lanzhou 730000, Peoples R China
; [Edmunds, W. Mike] Univ Oxford, Ctr Environm, Oxford Ctr Water Res, Oxford OX1 3QY, England
; [Huang, Tianming] Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Geol & Geophys, Beijing 100029, Peoples R China
Ma, JZ (reprint author), Lanzhou Univ, Minist Educ, Key Lab Western Chinas Environm Syst, 222 S Tianshui Rd, Lanzhou 730000, Peoples R China.