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Hydrological Sciences Journal, Vol. 44, No. 6, 1999

Isotope Tracers in Catchment Hydrology
C. Kendall and J. J. McDonnell (Eds.).

Published 1998 by Elsevier Science BV, Sara Burgerhartstraat 25, PO Box 211,1000 AE Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
price NLG480AJS$276 (hardbound) and NLGI58/LJS$91 (paperback); 839 + xxix pp.; ISBN 0 444
81546 5 (hardbound), 0 -444 50155 X (paperback)

Advances in catchment hydrology over the last 20 years have been spurred by the development of isotope methods in hydrology. The objective of Isotope Tracers in Catchment Hydrology, as stated by the editors, is to present a new "earth systems" approach to catchments, i.e. a multi-disciplinary approach that examines the entire landscape. That approach combines physical hydrology, geochemistry, and biochemistry. Part I of the book entitled Basic Principles consists of two main chapters (1, Fundamentals of Small Catchment Hydrology; and 2, Fundamentals of Isotope Geochemistry); Part II, Processes Affecting Isotope Composition consists of seven chapters (3, Isotopic Variations in Precipitation; 4, Isotopic Fractionation in Snow Cover; 5, Isotopic Exchange in Soil Water; 6, Plants, Isotopes and Water Use: a Catchment Scale Perspective; 7, Isotopes in Groundwater Hydrology; 8, Lithogenic and Cosmogenic Tracers in Catchment Hydrology; and 9, Dissolved Gases in Subsurface Hydrology); Part III, Case Studies in Isotope Hydrology consists of five chapters (10, Oxygen and Hydrogen Isotopes in Rainfall-Runoff Studies; 11, High Rainfall, Response-Dominated Catchment: a Comparative Study of Experiments in Tropical Northeast Queensland with Temperate New Zealand; 12, Snowmelt-Dominated Systems; 13, Arid Catchments; and 14, Groundwater and Surface-Water Interactions in Riparian and Lake-Dominated Systems); Part IV, Case Studies in Isotope Geochemistry consist of seven chapters (15, Use of Stable Isotopes in Evaluating Sulfur Biogeochemistry of Forest Ecosystems; 16, Tracing Nitrogen Sources and Cycles in Catchments; 17, Carbon Cycling in Terrestrial Environments; 18, Tracing of Weathering Reactions and Water Flowpaths: a Multi-Isotope Approach; 19, Erosion, Weathering, and Sedimentation; and 20, Applications of Uranium and Thorium- Series Radionuclides in Catchment Hydrology Studies); and Part V, Synthesis, which is neither adequately entitled nor indicated in the text, consists of two chapters (21, Modeling of Isotopes and Hydrogeochemical Responses in Catchment Hydrology; and 22, Isotopes as Indicators of Environmental Change). In fact, each chapter in Parts III and IV either starts with, or is mainly devoted to fundamentals of particular methods, which makes the chapters complete and easy to understand without referring to other chapters. Some chapters contain subchapters devoted to new research directions, which makes them even more complete.

Each chapter was written by one, two or three specialists, with the exception of five chapters written by larger teams. In general, 75 authors contributed to the book, which is fully justified by the variety of problems and methods covered, as documented by the short presentation of the contents given above. Of course, with such large numbers of chapters and contributors it is difficult to avoid repetitions and overlaps. However, as mentioned, some repetitions of the description of important methods and techniques by different authors in different applications should be regarded rather as an advantage of the book. The book positively differs from other books on isotope geochemistry or isotope hydrology as it starts with the description of catchments instead of lengthy descriptions of isotopes. Also, the editors' successful intention was to restrict the contents of the book to the catchment scale. Chapter 7 is an exception as it mainly deals with large basins. Although, as indirectly stated in the chapter, outflows from large groundwater-systems can contribute to the outflows from small catchments, neither the description of such cases nor a case study is given.

The book is an excellent presentation of the problems encountered in catchment studies, available and potential tracer methods, which serve for the solutions of these problems, and descriptions of case studies. The book can also be recommended as updated handbook on the basic principles of the isotope geochemistry and tracer methods applicable to catchments. It would be a valuable addition to the libraries of students and specialists in many fields of science, as can be seen from the contents list.

Unfortunately, Chapter 7, Isotopes in Groundwater Hydrology, does not equal the high level of the whole book and cannot be recommended, especially as the tracer methods pertinent to catchment studies are better described in other chapters. The chapter contains mistakes, undefined terms, incorrect description of some aquifers (well-mixed reservoirs instead of reservoirs with exponential distribution of transit times, shortly exponential-flow reservoirs), and even incorrect and unclear- presentation of some interpretation methods, which were better developed 20-30 years ago. For instance, curves in Fig. 7.12 represent an apparent effect related to using Darcy velocity instead of pore velocity. Figure 7.1 1 does not represent the distribution of ages for "a unidirectional flow in a semi-infinite medium and, in addition, the curves are wrongly calculated (correct curves are shown in Fig. 21.1). The influence of matrix porosity on tracer ages is mentioned only on the occasion of 14C exchange in the microporous matrix of carbonates, whereas the diffusion exchange of any tracer between the mobile water in fissures and immobile water in the micropores influences the movement and ages of any tracer. That effect was indicated first by S. S. D. Foster (J. Hydrol. 25, 1975. 159- 165) and I. Neretnicks (Water Resour. Res. 17, 1981, 421-422), discussed in textbooks (J. A- Freeze & J. F. Cherry, Groundwater, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NY, USA, 1979). In conclusion, in spite of the criticism expressed above in relation to Chapter 7, the book is highly recommended to all interested in catchment studies, environmental tracer hydrology, geochemistry, environmental changes and pedology.

A. Zuber
lnstitute of Nuclear Physics
Cracow, Poland

Related Links
Periodic Table
Fundamentals of Stable Isotope Geochemistry
General References
Isotope Publications
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