Testing and comparison of four ionic tracers to measure stream flow loss by multiple tracer injection

Hydrological Processes
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Abstract

The ionic tracers lithium, sodium, chloride and bromide were used to measure flow loss in a small stream (≈︁ 10 ls−1). An injectate containing all four tracers was added continuously at five sites along a 507 m study reach of St Kevin Gulch, Lake County, Colorado to determine which sections of the stream were losing water to the stream bed and to ascertain how well the four tracers performed. The acidity of the stream (pH 3.6) made it possible for lithium and sodium, which are normally adsorbed by ion exchange with stream bed sediment, to be used as conservative tracers. Net flow losses as low as 0.8 ls−1, or 8% of flow, were calculated between measuring sites. By comparing the results of simultaneous injection it was determined whether subsections of the study reach were influent or effluent. Evaluation of tracer concentrations along 116 m of stream indicated that all four tracers behaved conservatively. Discharges measured by Parshall flumes were 4–18% greater than discharges measured by tracer dilution.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Testing and comparison of four ionic tracers to measure stream flow loss by multiple tracer injection
Series title Hydrological Processes
DOI 10.1002/hyp.3360080206
Volume 8
Issue 2
Year Published 1994
Language English
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 155
Last page 165
Country United States
State Colorado
County Lake County
Other Geospatial St. Kevin Gulch
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