The influence of microclimates and fog on stable isotope signatures used in interpretation of regional hydrology: East Maui, Hawaii
Stable isotopes of precipitation, ground water and surface water measured on the windward side of East Maui from 0 to 3055 m altitude were used to determine recharge sources for stream flow and ground water. Correct interpretation of the hydrology using rainfall δ 18O gradients with altitude required consideration of the influence of fog, as fog samples had isotopic signatures enriched by as much as 3‰ in δ 18O and 21‰ in δD compared to volume-weighted average precipitation at the same altitude. The isotopic analyses suggested that fog drip was a major component of stream flow and shallow ground water at higher altitudes in the watershed. 18O/altitude gradients in rainfall were comparable for similar microclimates on Maui (this study) and Hawaii Island (1990-1995 study), however, East Maui δ 18O values for rain in trade-wind and high-altitude microclimates were enriched compared to those from Hawaii Island. Isotopes were used to interpret regional hydrology in this volcanic island aquifer system. In part of the study area, stable isotopes indicate discharge of ground water recharged at least 1000 m above the sample site. This deep-flowpath ground water was found in springs from sea level up to 240 m altitude, indicating saturation to altitudes much higher than a typical freshwater lens. These findings help in predicting the effects of ground water development on stream flow in the area.