Use of stable isotopes in Sydney catchment process and water quality studies

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Australian Water Association and Waste Management Association of Australia
The use of stable and radioactive isotopes as environmental tracers is becoming more widespread as isotopic analysis techniques become more accessible. ANSTO’s Isotopes for Water Project aims to increase awareness of the potential uses of isotopes in the management of catchments, rivers, reservoirs, aquifers, estuaries and biota. This paper outlines a range of potential applications using a wide range of isotopes (δ18O, δ2H, 14C, δ13C, δ15N, 3H, 7Be, 210Pb, 35S, δ34S, δ18O and Δ17O) in hydrology, hydrogeology, ecology and contaminant geochemistry with examples from the Sydney basin. The studies being undertaken by ANSTO include: • application of stable water isotopes to catchment and reservoir water balance; • age dating of groundwater to underpin sustainability assessment; • tracing the source of contaminants and nutrients such as nitrogen, organic matter and sulfate in catchments and waterways; • quantifying contaminated sediment dynamics and contaminant uptake into biota using shorted-lived radioisotopes; • tracing trophic linkages in aquatic food webs.
Stable isotopes, Watersheds, Water, Environment, Aquatic ecosystems, Ecology, Geochemistry, Nitrogen, Food, Tracer techniques, ANSTO
Hughes C., Mazumder D., Gibson J., Szymczak R., Cendon D.I ., Hollins S. & Waring C. (2006). Use of stable isotopes in Sydney catchment process and water quality studies. Paper presented to ENVIRO 06 Conference and Exhibition, "Building Sustainable Cities", Tuesday 9 - Thursday 11 May 2006, Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.