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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Abstract. End-member mixing analysis (EMMA) is a method of interpreting stream water chemistry variations and is widely used for chemical hydrograph separation. It is based on the assumption that stream water is a conservative mixture of varying contributions from well-characterized source solutions (end-members). These end-members are typically identified by collecting samples of potential end-member source waters from within the watershed and comparing these to the observations. Here we introduce a complementary data-driven method (convex hull end-member mixing analysis – CHEMMA) to infer the end-member compositions and their associated uncertainties from the stream water observations alone. The method involves two steps. The first uses convex hull nonnegative matrix factorization (CH-NMF) to infer possible end-member compositions by searching for a simplex that optimally encloses the stream water observations. The second step uses constrained K-means clustering (COP-KMEANS) to classify the results from repeated applications of CH-NMF and analyzes the uncertainty associated with the algorithm. In an example application utilizing the 1986 to 1988 Panola Mountain Research Watershed dataset, CHEMMA is able to robustly reproduce the three field-measured end-members found in previous research using only the stream water chemical observations. CHEMMA also suggests that a fourth and a fifth end-member can be (less robustly) identified. We examine uncertainties inmore »end-member identification arising from non-uniqueness, which is related to the data structure, of the CH-NMF solutions, and from the number of samples using both real and synthetic data. The results suggest that the mixing space can be identified robustly when the dataset includes samples that contain extremely small contributions of one end-member, i.e., samples containing extremely large contributions from one end-member are not necessary but do reduce uncertainty about the end-member composition.« less