Utilization of intrinsic boron isotopes as Co-migrating tracers for identifying potential nitrate contamination sources

James M. Leenhouts, R. L. Bassett, T. Maddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

The stable isotopes of the conservative element boron,11B and 10B, have been employed as co-migrating isotopic tracers to trace potential sources of nitrate observed in ground water pumped from a large capacity 0.167 m3/s irrigation well in the Avra Valley of southeastern Arizona. The isotopic ratios provided an identifying signature for two nitrogen carrying source waters: municipal waste water and agricultural return flow. Additional chemical parameters were also examined to corroborate the isotopic indications. Boron isotopes provided a superior delineation of mixing processes in the system compared to the general inorganic chemical parameters. Findings of this investigation indicate that the water pumped by the study well at the beginning of the 1993 irrigation season was composed of a mixture of approximately 25% municipal waste water and 75% background ground water. As the irrigation season progressed, an increasing proportion of water was contributed by irrigation return flow from neighboring agricultural fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-250
Number of pages11
JournalGround water
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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