Radon in Groundwater System

Chapter
Part of the Springer Geochemistry book series (SPRIGEO)

Abstract

The daughter products of 238U, 235U and 232Th have been utilized as tracers in groundwater systems primarily due to strong relative fractionation between a daughter and its immediate parent (generally). Of all the parent and daughter products in the U-Th series, 222Rn activity concentration is found to be the highest (excess radon of 102 to 105 times higher than that of 226Ra), as there is no removal of radon either by precipitation or sorption. Large scale spatial and relatively small scale temporal variations of 222Rn activities in worldwide groundwater systems have been reported. Attempts have been made to date groundwater using the measured 4He/222Rn ratios, although this method involves several key assumptions that need validation from more systematic studies, Radon has been used to investigate stream water-groundwater and surface water (lake, coastal ocean)—groundwater interactions and for the quantification of infiltration of meteoric water. Since almost all of the radon in groundwater is derived by recoil, from a comparison of the measured activities of 222Rn and radium isotopes (223,224,226,228Ra), the rate constants of adsorption/desorption, and retardation factors have been determined for a few groundwater aquifers. One of the most powerful applications of radon as a tracer is in locating and quantifying the amount of non-aqueous phase liquids present in subsurface contaminated or industrial sites. With a sub-decameter spatial resolution, radon serves as a tool for in-situ monitoring of the location of free—phase plumes of LNAPLS.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank Peter Swarzenski of U.S. Geological Survey for a thorough in-depth review of this chapter.

References

  1. Agarwal M, Gupta SK, Deshpande RD, Yadava MG (2006) Helium, radon and radiocarbon studies on a regional aquifer system of the North Gujarat-Cambay region, India. Chem Geol 228:209–232Google Scholar
  2. Andrews JN, Wood DF (1972) Mechanism of radon release in rock matrices and entry into groundwaters. Trans Inst Mining Metall B81:198–209Google Scholar
  3. Asikainen K (1981) State of disequilibrium between 238U, 234U, 226Ra and 222Rn in groundwater from bedrock. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 45:201–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baskaran M, Novell T, Nash K, Ruberg SA, Johengen T, Hawley N, Klump JV, Biddanda BA (2016) Tracing the seepage of surface sinkhole vent waters into Lake Huron using radium and stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen. Aquat Geochem. doi: 10.1007/s10498-015-9286-7 Google Scholar
  5. Bonotto DM (2004) Doses from Rn-222, Ra-226 and Ra-228 in groundwater from Guarani aquifer, South America. J Environ Radioact 76:319–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Broecker WS, Peng TH (1982) Traces in the Sea. Eldigo Press, pp 690Google Scholar
  7. Burnett WC et al (2006) Quantifying submarine groundwater discharge in the coastal zone via multiple methods. Sci Total Environ 367:498–543Google Scholar
  8. Burnett WC et al (2007) Remaining uncertainties in the use of Rn-222 as a quantitative tracer of submarine groundwater discharge. In: Sanford W, Langevin C, Polemio M, Povinec P (eds) A new focus on groundwater–seawater interactions. International Association of Hydrological Sciences Publication, vol 312, pp 109–118Google Scholar
  9. Chanyotha S, Kranrod C, Burnett WC, Lane-Smith D, Simko J (2014) Prospecting for groundwater discharge in the canals of Bangkok via natural radon and thoron. J Hydrol 519:1485–1492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chung Y-C (1981) Radium-226 and radon-222 in Southern California groundwater: spatial variations and correlations. Geophys Res Lett 8(5):457–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Copenhaver SA, Krishnaswami S, Turekian KK et al (1993) Retardation of 238U and 232Th decay chain radionuclides in long island and Connecticut aquifers. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 57:597–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis BM, Istok JD, Semprini L (2005) Numerical simulations of radon as an in-situ partitioning tracer for quantifying NAPL contamination using push-pull tests. J Contam Hydrol 78:87–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eakin M, Brownlee SJ, Baskaran M, Barbero L (2016) Mechanisms of radon loss from zircon: Microstructural controls on emanation and diffusion. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 184:212–226Google Scholar
  14. Fleischer RL (1983) Theory of alpha-recoil effects on radon release and isotopic disequilibrium. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 47(4):779–784Google Scholar
  15. Fleischer RL, Raabe RO (1978) Recoiling alpha-emitting nuclei: mechanisms for uranium-series disequilbrium. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 42:973–978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garver E, Baskaran M (2004) Effects of heating on the emanation rates of radon 222 from a suite of natural minerals. Appl Radiat Isot 61:1477–1485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hammond DE, Leslie BW, Ku T-L, Torgersen T (1988) 222Rn concentrations in deep formation waters and the geohydrology of the Cajon Pass borehole. Geophys Res Lett 15(9):1045–1048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hoehn E, von Gunten HR (1989) Radon in groundwater—a tool to assess infiltration from surface waters in aquifers. Water Resour Res 25(8):1795–1803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hoehn E, von Gunten HR (1992) Radon-222 as a groundwater tracer– a laboratory study. Environ Sci Technol 26(4):734–738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hunkeler D, Hoehn E, Hohener P, Zeyer J (1997) 222Rn as a partitioning tracer to detect diesel fuel contamination in aquifer: laboratory study and field observations. Environ Sci Technol 31(11):3180–3187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hussain N, Krishnaswami S (1982) U-238 series radioactive disequilibrium in groundwaters: implications to the origin of excess U-234 and fate of reactive pollutants. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 44:1287–1291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. IAEA (2014) The environmental behaviour of radium: revised edition http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/trs476_web.pdf
  23. Jin M, Delshad M, Dwarakanath V, McKinney DC, Pope GA, Sepehroori K, Tilburg CE (1995) Partitioning tracer test for detection, estimation, and monitoring the remediation performance assessment of subsurface nonaqueous phase liquids. Water Resour Res 31(5):1201–1211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kighoshi K (1971) Alpha recoil 234Th: dissolution in water and the 234U/238U disequilibrium in nature. Science 173:47–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Krishnaswami S, Graustein WC, Turekian KK, Dowd JF (1982) Radium, thorium, and radioactive isotopes in ground waters: application to the in situ determination of adsorption-desorption rate constants and retardation factors. Water Resour Res 18:1633–1645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Krishnaswami S, Bhushan R, Baskaran M (1991) Radium isotopes and 222Rn in shallow brines, Kharagoda (India). Chem Geology 87:125–136Google Scholar
  27. Ku T-L, Luo S, Leslie BW, Hammond DE (1992) Decay-series disequilibria applied to the study of rock-water interaction and geothermal systems. In: Ivanovich M, Harmon RS (eds) Uranium-series disequilibrium-application to earth, marine and environmental sciences. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 631–668Google Scholar
  28. Langmuir D, Riese AC (1985) The thermodynamic properties of radium. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 49:1593–1601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Langmuir D, Melchior D (1985) The geochemistry of Ca, Sr, Ba and Ra sulfates in some deep brines from the Palo Duro Basin. Texas Geochim Cosmochim Acta 49:2423–2432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Luo SD, Ku T-L, Roback R et al (2000) In-situ radionuclide transport and preferential groundwater flows at INELL (Idaho): decay-series disequilibrium studies. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 64:867–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Martin P, Akber RA (1999) Radium isotopes as indicators of adsorption-desorption interactions and barite formation in groundwater. J Environ Radioact 46(3):271–286Google Scholar
  32. Perrier F, Richon P, Byrdina S et al (2009) A direct evidence for high carbon dioxide and radon-222 discharge in Central Nepal. Earth Planet Sci Lett 278(3–4):198–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Porcelli D (2008) Investigating groundwater processes using U- and Th-series nuclides. In: Krishnaswami S, Cochran JK (eds) Radioactivity in the environment, vol 13. doi: 10.1016/S1569-4860(07)00004-6
  34. Porcelli D, Swarzenski PW (2003) The behavior of U- and Th-series nuclides in groundwater. Rev Mineral Geochem 52(1):317–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Reynolds BC, Wasserburg GJ, Baskaran M (2003) The transport of U- and Th-series radionuclides in sandy confined aquifers. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 67:1955–1972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Savoy L, Surbeck H, Hunkeler D (2011) Radon and CO2 as natural tracers to investigate the recharge dynamics of karst aquifers. J Hydrol 406:148–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schubert M (2015) Using radon as environmental tracer for the assessment of subsurface non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) contamination—a review. Eur Phys J Special Topics 224(4):717–730Google Scholar
  38. Schubert M, Fryer K, Treutler HC et al (2000) Radon-222 as an indicator of subsurface NAPL contamination. In: Bjerg PL, Engesgaard P, Krom TD (eds) International Conference on Groundwater Research, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 6–8 2000Google Scholar
  39. Schubert M, Paschke A, Lau S et al (2007a) Radon as a naturally occurring tracer for the assessment of residual NAPL contamination of aquifers. Environ Pollut 145:920–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schubert M, Lehmann K, Paschke A (2007b) Determination of radon partition coefficients between water and organic liquids and their utilization for the assessment of subsurface NAPL contamination. Sci Total Environ 376:306–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Semprini L, Hopkins OS, Tasker BR (2000) Laboratory, field and modeling studies of Radon-222 as a natural tracer for monitoring NAPL contamination. Transp Porous Media 38:223–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Stellato L, Terrasi F, Marzaioli F, Belli M, Sansone U, Celico F (2013) Is 222Rn a suitable tracer of stream-groundwater interactions? A case study from Italy. Appl Geochem 32:108–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sturchio NC, Banner JL, Binz CM, Heraty LB, Musgrove M (2001) Radium geochemistry of ground waters in Paleozoic carbonate aquifers, midcontinents USA. Appl Geochem 16:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Swarzenski PW, Baskaran M, Rosenbauer RJ, Edwards BD, Land M (2013) A combined radio- and stable-isotopic study of a California coastal aquifer system. Water 5(2):480–504. doi: 10.3390/w5020480 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Swarzenski PW et al (2015) Observations of nearshore groundwater discharge: Kahekili Beach Park submarine springs, Maui, Hawaii. J Hydrol Reg Stud.  10.1016/j.erjh.2015.12.056
  46. Szabo Z, DePaul VT, Fischer JM, Kraemer TF, Jacobsen E (2012) Occurrence and geochemistry of radium in water from principal drinking-water aquifer systems of the United States. Appl Geochem 27:729–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tanner AB (1964) Radon migration in the ground: a review. In: Adams JAS, Lowder WM (eds) The natural radiation environment. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, p 161Google Scholar
  48. Tanner AB (1978) Radon migration in the ground: a supplementary review. In: Gessel T, Lowder W (eds) The natural radiation environment III. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN, pp 5–56Google Scholar
  49. Torgersen T (1980). Controls on pore-fluid concentration of He-4 and Rn-222 and the calculation of He-4-Rn-222 ages. J Geochem Exploration 13(1):57–75Google Scholar
  50. Tricca A, Wasserburg GJ, Porcelli D, Baskaran M (2001) The transport of U- and Th-series nuclides in a sandy unconfined aquifer. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 65:1187–1210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Whitehead NE (1980) Radon measurements at three New Zealand and geothermal areas. Geothermics 9:279–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

Personalised recommendations