Tracing water age under open stream conditions

Emma Davies, a new PhD student, in team Rivers
Nepaleise mountain range (background image; sourced from WWF (2024)) and a Multi Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry instrument (foreground image; sourced from Nu Ametek (2019))

This PhD project will investigate man-made dissolved age tracers such as 129I or 36Cl in ensemble with classical trace gasses such as CFC’s and SF6 to unravel seasonal insights on the hydrological activation of different storage compartments.

The methodology required to achieve these aims includes:
1) Field sampling of a time series in Nepal and other field sites (e.g., Rennes)
2) Development of an analytical procedure using Multi Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry to measure the isotope 129I
3) Quality control measurements of I129I using an Accelerator Mass Spectrometer.

As a result, the project will identify river discharge into single end member contributions to answer simple questions such as the age of a flood. This will build our understanding on the role of melt vs. aquifer systems which sustain perennial river fluxes in melting mountain environments. In essence, this project aims to contribute valuable insights into crucial water resources and to explore the capabilities of analytical instruments (i.e., MC ICP-MS) to measure unconventional isotopes.