Radionuclides as tracers and timers in surface and groundwater

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Abstract

Environmental radionuclides—in combination with stable isotopes, geochemistry, and other hydrological techniques—provide a powerful tool, often indispensable, for studying the cycling of water in continental hydrological systems. The use of environmental radionuclides in surface water studies is reviewed in the chapter. The chapter also briefly discusses groundwater and geothermal water taking into consideration the fact that most applications in groundwater and geothermal water studies require the combined use of radioactive and stable isotopes. There are several sources of radionuclides in the environment, and the sources control the ways in which isotopes can be applied to hydrologic systems. Another group of radionuclides that can be utilized are those produced by cosmic-ray spallationin the atmosphere or near-surface lithosphere. Many of these nuclides, such as carbon-14 (14C) and tritium (3H), are also produced by nuclear weapons testing, and it is necessary to separate the two source functions when using them.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Radionuclides as tracers and timers in surface and groundwater
Chapter 5
DOI 10.1016/S1569-4860(09)01605-2
Volume 16
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 92 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Radioactivity in the environment
First page 139
Last page 230