Radon, CO2 and CH4 as environmental tracers in groundwater/surface water interaction studies − comparative theoretical evaluation of the gas specific water/air phase transfer kinetics
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The applicability of radon as environmental tracer in groundwater/surface water interaction studies has been documented in a considerable number of publications. In some of these reports it has also been suggested to validate the radon based results by using CO2 and CH4 as supplementary tracers. The on-site measurement of the three gaseous parameters relies on their extraction from the water followed by the measurement of their concentration by means of mobile gas-in-air detectors. Since most related practical applications require the recording of time series, a continuous extraction of the gases from (e.g.) a permanently pumped water stream is necessary. A precondition for the sound combined interpretation of the resulting time series is that the individual temporal responses of the extracted gas-in-air concentrations to instantaneously changing gas-in-water concentrations are either identical or in reproducible relation to each other. The aim of our theoretical study was the comparison of the extraction behavior of the three gaseous solutes with focus on the individual temporal responses to changing gas-in-water concentrations considering in particular the gas specific water/air phase transfer kinetics. We could show that the overall mass transfer coefficients of radon, CO2 and CH4 result in a virtually similar temporal response to aqueous concentration changes, thus confirming the straightforward combined measurement/utilization of the dissolved gases as environmental tracers in groundwater/surface water interaction studies.
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