skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Quantification of Groundwater Discharge in a Subalpine Stream Using Radon-222

Abstract

During the dry months of the water year in Mediterranean climates, groundwater influx is essential to perennial streams for sustaining ecosystem health and regulating water temperature. Predicted earlier peak flow due to climate change may result in decreased baseflow and the transformation of perennial streams to intermittent streams. In this study, naturally occurring radon-222 (222Rn) was used as a tracer of groundwater influx to Martis Creek, a subalpine stream near Lake Tahoe, CA. Groundwater 222Rn is estimated based on measurements of 222Rn activity in nearby deep wells and springs. To determine the degassing constant (needed for quantification of water and gas flux), an extrinsic tracer, xenon (Xe), was introduced to the stream and monitored at eight downstream locations. The degassing constant for 222Rn is based on the degassing constant for Xe, and was determined to be 1.9–9.0 m/day. Applying a simple model in which stream 222Rn activity is a balance between the main 222Rn source (groundwater) and sink (volatilization), the influx in reaches of the upstream portion of Martis Creek was calculated to be <1 to 15 m3/day/m, which cumulatively constitutes a significant portion of the stream discharge. Experiments constraining 222Rn emanation from hyporheic zone sediments suggest that this shouldmore » be considered a maximum rate of influx. Groundwater influx is typically difficult to identify and quantify, and the method employed here is useful for identifying locations for focused stream flow measurements, for formulating a water budget, and for quantifying streamwater–groundwater interaction.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [2];  [1]
  1. California State Univ East Bay, Hayward, CA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1458647
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL-741837
Journal ID: ISSN 2073-4441; WATEGH; 896051
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-07NA27344
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Water (Basel)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Water (Basel); Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 2073-4441
Publisher:
MDPI
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Avery, Elizabeth, Bibby, Richard, Visser, Ate, Esser, Bradley, and Moran, Jean. Quantification of Groundwater Discharge in a Subalpine Stream Using Radon-222. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.3390/w10020100.
Avery, Elizabeth, Bibby, Richard, Visser, Ate, Esser, Bradley, & Moran, Jean. Quantification of Groundwater Discharge in a Subalpine Stream Using Radon-222. United States. doi:10.3390/w10020100.
Avery, Elizabeth, Bibby, Richard, Visser, Ate, Esser, Bradley, and Moran, Jean. Thu . "Quantification of Groundwater Discharge in a Subalpine Stream Using Radon-222". United States. doi:10.3390/w10020100. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1458647.
@article{osti_1458647,
title = {Quantification of Groundwater Discharge in a Subalpine Stream Using Radon-222},
author = {Avery, Elizabeth and Bibby, Richard and Visser, Ate and Esser, Bradley and Moran, Jean},
abstractNote = {During the dry months of the water year in Mediterranean climates, groundwater influx is essential to perennial streams for sustaining ecosystem health and regulating water temperature. Predicted earlier peak flow due to climate change may result in decreased baseflow and the transformation of perennial streams to intermittent streams. In this study, naturally occurring radon-222 (222Rn) was used as a tracer of groundwater influx to Martis Creek, a subalpine stream near Lake Tahoe, CA. Groundwater 222Rn is estimated based on measurements of 222Rn activity in nearby deep wells and springs. To determine the degassing constant (needed for quantification of water and gas flux), an extrinsic tracer, xenon (Xe), was introduced to the stream and monitored at eight downstream locations. The degassing constant for 222Rn is based on the degassing constant for Xe, and was determined to be 1.9–9.0 m/day. Applying a simple model in which stream 222Rn activity is a balance between the main 222Rn source (groundwater) and sink (volatilization), the influx in reaches of the upstream portion of Martis Creek was calculated to be <1 to 15 m3/day/m, which cumulatively constitutes a significant portion of the stream discharge. Experiments constraining 222Rn emanation from hyporheic zone sediments suggest that this should be considered a maximum rate of influx. Groundwater influx is typically difficult to identify and quantify, and the method employed here is useful for identifying locations for focused stream flow measurements, for formulating a water budget, and for quantifying streamwater–groundwater interaction.},
doi = {10.3390/w10020100},
journal = {Water (Basel)},
number = 2,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {1}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 2 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Quantifying groundwater flows to streams using differential flow gaugings and water chemistry
journal, January 2012


Use of automated radon measurements for rapid assessment of groundwater flow into Florida streams
journal, January 2010


Estimation of hyporheic water residence time in situ using 222 Rn disequilibrium : Radon-222 hyporheic disequilibrium
journal, November 2007

  • Lamontagne, Sébastien; Cook, Peter G.
  • Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, Vol. 5, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.4319/lom.2007.5.407

Large-Scale Atmospheric Forcing of Recent Trends toward Early Snowmelt Runoff in California
journal, March 1995


Carbon-14 in streams as a tracer of discharging groundwater
journal, November 2014


Global change and the groundwater management challenge: Groundwater Management Challenge
journal, May 2015

  • Gorelick, Steven M.; Zheng, Chunmiao
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 51, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1002/2014WR016825

Influence of groundwater spring discharge on small-scale spatial variation of an alpine stream ecosystem
journal, July 2010

  • Roy, James W.; Zaitlin, Beryl; Hayashi, Masaki
  • Ecohydrology, Vol. 4, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1002/eco.156

Gas exchange rates in the tidal Hudson river using a dual tracer technique
journal, January 1994

  • Clark, Jordan F.; Wanninkhof, Rik; Schlosser, Peter
  • Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, Vol. 46, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.3402/tellusb.v46i4.15802

Solute chemistry of snowmelt and runoff in an Alpine Basin, Sierra Nevada
journal, July 1991

  • Williams, Mark W.; Melack, John M.
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 27, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1029/90WR02774

Radon in Chalk streams: Spatial and temporal variation of groundwater sources in the Pang and Lambourn catchments, UK
journal, June 2007


Inferring Ground Water Flow in Fractured Rock from Dissolved Radon
journal, July 1999


Quantifying Reaeration Rates in Alpine Streams Using Deliberate Gas Tracer Experiments
journal, April 2014

  • Benson, Andrew; Zane, Matthew; Becker, Timothy
  • Water, Vol. 6, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.3390/w6041013

Processes regulating the solute concentrations of snowmelt runoff in two subalpine catchments of the Sierra Nevada, California
journal, July 2001

  • Williams, Michael R.; Leydecker, Al; Brown, Aaron D.
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 37, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1029/2000WR900361

Measuring methods for groundwater – surface water interactions: a review
journal, January 2006

  • Kalbus, E.; Reinstorf, F.; Schirmer, M.
  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 10, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.5194/hess-10-873-2006

Mg2+-Based Method for the Pertuso Spring Discharge Evaluation
journal, January 2017

  • Sappa, Giuseppe; Ferranti, Flavia; De Filippi, Francesco
  • Water, Vol. 9, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.3390/w9010067

Investigating the spatio-temporal variability in groundwater and surface water interactions: a multi-technique approach
journal, January 2013

  • Unland, N. P.; Cartwright, I.; Andersen, M. S.
  • Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 17, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.5194/hess-17-3437-2013

A membrane inlet mass spectrometry system for noble gases at natural abundances in gas and water samples: MIMS system for noble gases at natural abundances in gas and water
journal, October 2013

  • Visser, Ate; Singleton, Michael J.; Hillegonds, Darren J.
  • Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Vol. 27, Issue 21
  • DOI: 10.1002/rcm.6704

Numerical verification of hyporheic zone depth estimation using streambed temperature
journal, April 2014


Using terrigenic 4 He to identify and quantify regional groundwater discharge to streams : REGIONAL GROUNDWATER DISCHARGE IN RIVERS
journal, June 2011

  • Gardner, W. Payton; Harrington, Glenn A.; Solomon, D. Kip
  • Water Resources Research, Vol. 47, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1029/2010WR010276

Radon: Sources, Health Risks, and Hazard Mapping
journal, February 2007


Implications of projected climate change for groundwater recharge in the western United States
journal, March 2016


Evaluating the impact of irrigation on surface water – groundwater interaction and stream temperature in an agricultural watershed
journal, December 2017


Estimating groundwater discharge to rivers from river chemistry surveys: GROUNDWATER DISCHARGE TO RIVERS
journal, August 2012

  • Cook, Peter G.
  • Hydrological Processes, Vol. 27, Issue 25
  • DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9493

Uncertainty of natural tracer methods for quantifying river–aquifer interaction in a large river
journal, April 2016


Influence of geology and soil particle size on the surface-area/volume activity ratio for natural radionuclides
journal, January 1995

  • Baeza, A.; Del Rio, M.; Jimenez, A.
  • Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, Vol. 189, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1007/BF02042608

Prospecting for groundwater discharge in the canals of Bangkok via natural radon and thoron
journal, November 2014


Tracking Groundwater Discharge to a Large River using Tracers and Geophysics
journal, October 2013

  • Harrington, Glenn A.; Gardner, W. Payton; Munday, Tim J.
  • Groundwater, Vol. 52, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1111/gwat.12124

Water table fluctuations near an incised stream, Walnut Creek, Iowa
journal, January 2004


Hyporheic zone exchange fluxes and residence times inferred from riverbed temperature and radon data
journal, November 2014