Date of Award

Fall 2008

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science


The Headwaters Lamprey River Watershed (HLRW) is located in southeastern New Hampshire, a region projected to experience rapid population growth and increased water stress. In order to better understand groundwater flowpaths and residence times within the HLRW, this study employs stable water isotopes as natural tracers. For the period of June 2006 through October 2007, over 200 total water samples of groundwater, surface water, precipitation, and infiltration were collected and analyzed for stable hydrogen and oxygen isotopes. Based on analysis of isotopic and hydrometric data, the groundwater system is interpreted to be comprised of three distinct but interconnected reservoirs: a shallow groundwater reservoir which does not directly contribute to stream flow at the watershed outlet and has a mean residence time greater than 9 years; a very shallow groundwater reservoir, which is fed by the shallow system, flows through surface water bodies and wetlands with a mean residence time of approximately 1.5 months, and is the primary source of baseflow in the stream network; and a deep groundwater reservoir. The findings have significant implications for the interpretation of biogeochemical mass balance models in the Lamprey River Watershed.