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projects > tracing the mixing of groundwater into coastal waters utilizing a new radiometric technique: radium isotope systematics to look at the geologic control of aquifers

Tracing the Mixing of Groundwater into Coastal Waters Utilizing a New Radiometric Technique: Radium Isotope Systematics to Look at the Geologic Control of Aquifers

image illustrating thorium decay
Project Investigator: Peter Swarzenski

Project Start Date: 1998 End Date: 2000


Summary

Our objective is to develop 223,224,228,226Ra isotope systematics to address the issue of groundwater flow into Florida Bay.

We propose to develop 223,224,228,226Ra isotope systematics to address the issue of groundwater flow into Florida Bay. Such methods are critical in accurately evaluating the role of submarine discharge and have direct implications for assessing coastal eutrophication, contamination and overall ecosystem change. Techniques described herein have been successfully utilized to quantify the contribution of groundwater in coastal mixing on time scales of a few days to years. Briefly, radium has a very different geochemical signature in freshwater versus seawater. This attribute, in addition to known source functions, a wide range of half-lives (3.8 days to 1600 years), and elevated groundwater activities make radium ideal to examine subsurface water/sediment transitions. By measuring this suite of radium isotopes in local groundwater wells (which are already in place) as well as in surrounding fresh water, seawater and underlying limestone, we will determine the coastal groundwater discharge rate and magnitude. The application of radium isotopes in this system will provide vital informationfor establishing a comprehensive water and contaminant budget for Florida Bay.

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