Radon in Groundwater System

Part of the Springer Geochemistry book series (SPRIGEO)


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.



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


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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