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High-Precision Isotopic Analysis

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Applications > Environmental

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Isotope analysis is a significant component of environmental research and is widely used to detect and resolve problems related to global climate change, age dating of groundwater, monitoring of landfill contamination, determining source of stray gas in soils, and deciphering the origin and fate of nitrate in surface and groundwater.

A combination of isotope analyses assists in identifying landfill gases and leachate, and in determining the sources of stray methane and carbon dioxide found in soils and buildings. Nitrogen and oxygen isotopes have been used to identify the source of elevated nitrate concentration in natural water and to study the extent of denitrification. Tritium and radiocarbon analyses are used to determine the age of groundwater supplies to evaluate how well protected they are from surface contamination. Radiocarbon and stable isotopes have been used to study past environments and paleoclimates.

The applications of isotope analyses are helping scientists to better understand the environment and to find answers to problems where chemical and physical analyses alone do not yield enough information for definitive solutions.

Suggested Readings
K.C. Hackley, "Environmental Isotope Characteristics of Landfill Leachates and Gases," Ground Water, September-October 1996, Volume 34, Number 5, Pages 827-836.

Carol Kendall and Jeffrey J. McDonnell, editors, "Isotope Tracers in Catchment Hydrology," Elsevier Science B.V., 1998

Dennis D. Coleman, "Identification of Landfill Methane," Environmental Geosciences, Volume 2, Number 2, 1995, Pages 95-103.

Stray Gas Identification (PDF)
Dissolved Gas Identification (PDF)

Information on water analysis
Information on gas analysis



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