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Fluorescence of dissolved organic matter as a natural tracer of ground water

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Baker, Dr John Lamont-Black


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The fluorescence properties of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in ground water in the Permian limestone of northeast England is determined from six monitoring boreholes, a private water supply well and from a natural resurgence in a flooded collapse doline in the environs of Darlington, County Durham, northeast England. Measurements of both protein and "fulvic-like" fluorescence was undertaken from January to December 1999. The wavelengths of fulvic-like fluorescence excitation and emission and of protein fluorescence emission were all determined to be sensitive fingerprints of organic matter fluxes through the ground water, with water within the till and within both gypsum and limestone strata deep inside the Magnesian Limestone being differentiated by these parameters. Previous research has suggested that proteins in waters are "young" in age, hence our seasonal variations suggest that we are sampling recently formed DOM. The rapid response of all deep borehole samples suggests relatively rapid ground water flow, probably through karstic cave systems developed in the gypsum and solution widened features in the dolomitic limestone. Our results suggest that use of both protein and fulvic-like fluorescence wavelength variations provides a DOM signature that can be used as a natural tracer.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Baker A, Lamont-Black J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ground Water

Year: 2001

Volume: 39

Issue: 5

Pages: 745-750

ISSN (print): 0017-467X

ISSN (electronic): 1745-6584

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2001.tb02365.x

PubMed id: 11554253


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