A dual isotope approach to identify denitrification in groundwater at a river-bank infiltration site

Teppei Fukada, Kevin M. Hiscock, Paul F. Dennis, Thomas Grischek

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The identification of denitrification in the Torgau sand and gravel aquifer, Germany, was carried out by a dual isotope method of measuring both the d15N and d18O in NO3-. Samples were prepared by an anion exchange resin method (Silva et al., J. Hydrol. 228 (2000) 22) with a modification to the AgNO3-drying process from a freeze-drying to an oven-drying method. The occurrence of denitrification in the aquifer was confirmed by comparing the reduction of dissolved oxygen, dissolved organic carbon and NO3- concentrations with the dual isotope signatures. High nitrate concentrations were associated with low d15N and d18O values, and vice versa. The denitrification accords with a Rayleigh equation with calculated enrichment factors of =-13.62‰ for d15N and =-9.80‰ for d18O. The slope of the straight-line relationship between the d15N and d18O data demonstrated that the enrichment of the heavy nitrogen isotope was higher by a factor of 1.3 compared with the heavy oxygen isotope. It is concluded that the identification of this factor is a useful means for confirming denitrification in future groundwater studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3070-3078
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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