Isotope Monitoring & Data

We conduct stable isotope monitoring in different water sources:

Rainfall (weekly and daily since 2013)


Surface waters


Shallow and deep groundwater



Hydrothermal and volcanic systems



Soil water


Bottled water


Urban waters


Isotopically, rainfall variability across critical recharge areas in the Central Volcanic Range of Costa Rica offers a particular advantage. Rainfall seasonality between the Pacific slope (whereby most of the Central Valley is located) and Caribbean slope (being the Caribbean Sea the main moisture source), and subsequently, different orographic and rainfall generation processes (convective versus stratiform) result in a clear spatio-temporal isotope separation (Sánchez-Murillo and Birkel, 2016). These distinct isotope pulses are transferred to surface water networks and shallow/deep groundwater (water age ranged from 2 up to 70 years) and later to a wide variety of aqueducts from mountain communities to large urban areas.

Main objective

To improve urban management practices in the Central Valley of Costa Rica using isotope-enable GIS tools.

Specific objectives

  • To map the distribution of water sources (spring water, surface water, wells, and tap water), storage units (water tanks and small reservoirs), and aqueduct infrastructure.
  • Characterize isotopically (weekly and daily basis) the annual rainfall regime in the northern slope of the Central Valley of Costa Rica.
  • Characterize isotopically all water sources including extraction points, mixing units, and tap water in all different aqueducts.
  • Determine the mean elevation recharge and population disproportionality using an isoscape approach.
  • Postulate a preliminary urban water management plan in the northern region of the Central Valley of Costa Rica.




  1. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2013_OJMH
  2. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2015_IEHS_streams
  3. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2015_IEHS_precipitation
  4. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2016_QSR
  5. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2016_HP_Today
  6. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2016_RGAC
  7. Salas_Navarro_etal_2018_IEHS
  8. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2017_CRC_Press
  9. Sánchez_Murillo_&_Birkel_2016_JGR_Letters
  10. Corrales_Salazar_etal_2016_IJTC
  11. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2016_IEHS
  12. Ramírez_Leiva_etal_2017_JVGR
  13. Sánchez_Murillo_etal_2014_G3



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