WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL
Project ID: 2004HI55B
Title: Development of a New Technique for the use of Dissolved Helium as an Environmental Groundwater Tracer
Project Type: Research
Focus Categories: Hydrology, Solute Transport, Models
Keywords: helium, tracer tests, instrumentation
Start Date: 03/01/2004
End Date: 02/28/2005
Federal Funds: $17,006
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $35,031
Congressional District: First
Aly I. El-kadi
Helium has several advantages over other tracers including the following:
(1) Helium is non-toxic; (2) Helium is inert and therefore does not degrade
or react with the aquifer matrix; (3) There are no esthetics issues are involved
in the use of helium as a tracer; and (4) Naturally occurring concentrations
of dissolved helium are generally very low and well below its saturation concentration.
Helium has thus great potential in certain specialized groundwater tracer
applications. These include use near drinking water sources or in environmentally
sensitive areas such as wet lands; use where esthetics are a concern such
as recreational beaches; and use in conjunction when investigating the diffusion
characteristics of the aquifer.
The proposed study will develop and demonstrate a new analytical system that will substantially improve the precision and utility of the helium tracer analysis techniques for routine use in surface and groundwater. The new design will allow on-site, continuous, real-time monitoring in a completely automated structure. The work proposed will include system development, calibration in a laboratory environment, and testing in the laboratory against other commonly used tracers.