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Authors: Sacchi, Elisa* 
Cuoco, Emilio* 
Oster, Harald* 
Paolucci, Vittorio* 
Tedesco, Dario* 
Viaroli, Stefano* 
Title: Tracing groundwater circulation in a valuable mineral water basin with geochemical and isotopic tools: the case of FERRARELLE, Riardo basin, Southern Italy
Journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health 
Series/Report no.: /44 (2022)
Publisher: Springer
Issue Date: 2022
DOI: 10.1007/s10653-021-00845-x
Keywords: Aquifer recharge; Fractured aquifers; Groundwater dating; Hydrogeological circuits; Stable isotopes
Abstract: The Riardo basin hosts groundwater exploited for the production of high quality, naturally sparkling, bottled water (e.g., Ferrarelle water), and circulating in a system constituted by highly fractured Mesozoic carbonates, overlain by more impervious volcanic rocks of the Roccamonfina complex. The two formations are locally in hydraulic connection and dislocated by deep-rooted faults. The study aimed at elucidating groundwater origin and circulation, using isotopic tracers (δ18O, δ2H, δ11B and 87Sr/86Sr) coupled to groundwater dating (Tritium, CFCs and SF6). Besides recharge by local precipitation over the Riardo hydrogeological basin, stable isotope ratios in water indicated an extra-basin recharge, likely from the elevated surrounding carbonate reliefs (e.g., Maggiore and Matese Mts.). The mineralization process, promoted by the deep CO2 flux, controls the B and Sr contents. However, their isotopic ratios did not allow discriminating between circulation in the volcanic and in the carbonate aquifers, as in the latter the isotopic composition differed from the original marine signature. Groundwater model ages ranged from ~ 30 years for the volcanic endmember to > 70 years for the deep, mineralized end-member, with longer circuits recharged at higher elevations. Overall, the results of this study were particularly relevant for mineral water exploitation. A recharge from outside the hydrogeological basin could be evidenced, especially for the more mineralized and valuable groundwater, and an active recent recharge was detected for the whole Riardo system. Both findings will contribute to the refinement of the hydrogeological model and water budget, and to a sustainable development of the resource.
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