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Abstract

As part of ongoing research conducted at one of the U.S. Geological Survey's Water, Energy, and Biogeochem-ical Budgets sites, work was undertaken to describe the spatial and temporal variability of stream and ground water isotopic composition and cation chemistry in the Trout Lake watershed, to relate the variability to the watershed flow system, and to identify the linkages of geochemical evolution and source of water in the watershed. The results are based on periodic sampling of sites at two scales along Allequash Creek, a small headwater stream in northern Wisconsin. Based on this sampling, there are distinct water isotopic and geochemical differences observed at a smaller hillslope scale and the larger Allequash Creek scale. The variability was larger than expected for this simple watershed, and is likely to be seen in more complex basins. Based on evidence from multiple isotopes and stream chemistry, the flow system arises from three main source waters (terrestrial-, lake-, or wetland-derived recharge) that can be identified along any flowpath using water isotopes together with geochemical characteristics such as iron concentrations. The ground water chemistry demonstrates considerable spatial variability that depends mainly on the flow-path length and water mobility through the aquifer. Calcium concentrations increase with increasing flowpath length, whereas strontium isotope ratios increase with increasing extent of stagnation in either the unsaturated or saturated zones as waters move from source to sink. The flowpath distribution we identify provides important constraints on the calibration of ground water flow models such as that undertaken by Pint et al. (this issue).