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Abstract

A total of 2143 dissolved radon-222 and radium-226 activity concentrations measured together in water samples was compiled from the literature. To date, the use of such a large database is the first attempt to establish a relationship for the 226Ra–222Rn couple. Over the whole dataset, radon and radium concentrations range over more than nine and six orders of magnitude, respectively. Geometric means yield 9.82±0.73 Bq l−1 for radon and 54.6±2.7 mBq l−1 for radium. Only a few waters are in 226Ra–222Rn radioactive equilibrium, with most of them being far from equilibrium; the geometric mean of the radium concentration in water/radon concentration in water (CRa/CRn) ratio is estimated to be 0.0056±0.0004. Significant differences in radon and radium concentrations are observed between groundwaters and surface waters, on the one hand, and between hot springs and cold springs, on the other. Within water types, typical ranges of radon and radium concentrations can be associated with subgroups of waters. While the radium concentration characterizes the geochemistry of the groundwater–rock interaction, the radon concentration, in most cases, is a signal of non-mobile radium embedded in the encasing rocks. Thus, the 226Ra–222Rn couple can be a useful tool for the characterization of water and for the identification of water source rocks, shedding light on the various water–rock interaction processes taking place in the environment.

Supplementary material: The database is available as a table at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3582131

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