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WRRCSR No.06:01:90 Injected Helium: A New Hydrological Tracer

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Title: WRRCSR No.06:01:90 Injected Helium: A New Hydrological Tracer
Authors: Gupta, Sushil K.
Lau, L. Stephen
Moravcik, Philip S.
El-Kadi, Aly
Keywords: helium
show 5 moreaquifer
open water

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LC Subject Headings: Groundwater flow -- Analysis.
Groundwater tracers.
Issue Date: Jun 1990
Publisher: Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Citation: Gupta SK, Lau LS, Moravcik PS, El-Kadi A. 1990. Injected helium: A new hydrological tracer. Honolulu (HI): Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. WRRC special report, 06:01:90.
Series/Report no.: WRRC Special Reports
Abstract: Five types of experiments were conducted to investigate dissolved helium gas as an injected water tracer, both in the subsurface water and open water: instrument development, sand column, soil columns,
groundwater in basalt aquifer, and open water in tank and flume. Thirty-four Board of Water Supply pumping wells were sampled and 7 USGS wells were utilized. Much subsurface water data were simulated
by transport models. The project developed a helium-detection system which consists of a thin quartz-glass membrane and a diode-ion pump. The system responded linearly to helium diffusion through the membrane over a range of six orders of magnitude. The test results demonstrated that helium is an ideal water tracer for groundwater in the saturated zone because of the attributes of helium: conservative nature, easy to use, low cost, absence in nearly all natural water, safety to the environment and humans. For the unsaturated-zone tests, exchange of helium with air entrained in the porous media
reduced the usefulness of helium. In the open-water tests, helium behaved like fluorescein in a relatively tranquil submerged environment for hours but was gradually lost through air-water interface, thus limiting the usefulness of helium to short-duration studies or in a submerged environment.
Sponsor: National Science Foundation Grant/Contract No. CES-8818175
Pages/Duration: ix + 94 pages
Appears in Collections:WRRC Special Reports

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