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Lanthanide-labeled clay: A new method for tracing sediment transport in Karst

Ground Water

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Abstract

Mobile sediment is a fundamental yet poorly characterized aspect of mass transport through karst aquifers. Here the development and field testing of an extremely sensitive particle tracer that may be used to characterize sediment transport in karst aquifers is described. The tracer consists of micron-size montmorillonite particles homoionized to the lanthanide form; after injection and retrieval from a ground water system, the lanthanide ions are chemically stripped from the clay and quantified by high performance liquid chromatography. The tracer meets the following desired criteria: low detection limit; a number of differentiable signatures; inexpensive production and quantification using standard methods; no environmental risks; and hydrodynamic properties similar to the in situ sediment it is designed to trace. The tracer was tested in laboratory batch experiments and field tested in both surface water and ground water systems. In surface water, arrival times of the tracer were similar to those of a conservative water tracer, although a significant amount of material was lost due to settling. Two tracer tests were undertaken in a karst aquifer under different flow conditions. Under normal flow conditions, the time of arrival and peak concentration of the tracer were similar to or preceded that of a conservative water tracer. Under low flow conditions, the particle tracer was not detected, suggesting that in low flow the sediment settles out of suspension and goes into storage.Mobile sediment is a fundamental yet poorly characterized aspect of mass transport through karst aquifers. Here the development and field testing of an extremely sensitive particle tracer that may be used to characterize sediment transport in karst aquifers is described. The tracer consists of micron-size montmorillonite particles homoionized to the lanthanide form; after injection and retrieval from a ground water system, the lanthanide ions are chemically stripped from the clay and quantified by high performance liquid chromatography. The tracer meets the following desired criteria: low detection limit; a number of differentiable signatures; inexpensive production and quantification using standard methods; no environmental risks; and hydrodynamic properties similar to the in situ sediment it is designed to trace. The tracer was tested in laboratory batch experiments and field tested in both surface water and ground water systems. In surface water, arrival times of the tracer were similar to those of a conservative water tracer, although a significant amount of material was lost due to settling. Two tracer tests were undertaken in a karst aquifer under different flow conditions. Under normal flow conditions, the time of arrival and peak concentration of the tracer were similar to or preceded that of a conservative water tracer. Under low flow conditions, the particle tracer was not detected, suggesting that in low flow the sediment settles out of suspension and goes into storage.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Lanthanide-labeled clay: A new method for tracing sediment transport in Karst
Series title:
Ground Water
Volume
36
Issue:
5
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
Ground Water Publ Co
Publisher location:
Westerville, OH, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Ground Water
First page:
835
Last page:
843