Development of a Local Meteoric Water Line for Southeastern Idaho, Western Wyoming, and South-Central Montana

By Lyn Benjamin, Consulting Hydrologist, LeRoy L. Knobel, U.S. Geological Survey, L. Flint Hall, State of Idaho INEEL Oversight Program, L. DeWayne Cecil, U.S. Geological Survey, and Jaromy R. Green, Garden City Community College, Kansas


U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5126

January 2005


This report is also available as a pdf.



Linear-regression analysis was applied to stable hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) isotope data in 72 snow-core and precipitation samples collected during 1999-2001 to determine the Local Meteoric Water Line (LMWL) for southeastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and south-central Montana.

On the basis of (1) residuals from the regression model, (2) comparison of study-area deuterium-excess (d-excess) values with the global range of d-excess values, and (3) outlier analysis by means of Chauvenet's Criterion, values of four samples were excluded from final regression analysis of the dataset. Regression results for the 68 remaining samples yielded a LMWL defined by the equation math
       symbol²H = 7.95 Math symbol18O + 8.09 (r² = 0.98).

This equation will be useful as a reference point for future studies in this area that use stable isotopes of H and O to determine sources of ground-water recharge, to determine water-mineral exchange, to evaluate surface-water and groundwater interaction, and to analyze many other geochemical and hydrologic problems.




Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Regional Geology


Previous Investigations



Sample Collection

Quality Assurance

Results of delta hydrogen-2 and oxygen-18 analyses

Linear-Regression Model

Calculation of Deuterium-Excess

Development of local meteoric water line

Summary and conclusions

Selected references


For more information please contact:

U.S. Geological Survey

INEEL, MS 1160

P.O. Box 2230

Idaho Falls, ID 83403



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U.S. Geological Survey

Information Services

Box 25286, Federal Center

Denver, CO 80225


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