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Radioactive Tracers in Ground Waters


Development of a Mobile Hardware and Software Complex for Determining the Dynamic Parameters of Ground Waters with the Aid of Radioactive Tracers

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Krylov Central Research Institute, Russia, St Petersburg

Supporting institutes

  • Mendeleev Institute of Metrology, Russia, St Petersburg\nState company "Sevmorgeo", Russia, St Petersburg


  • State University of New York at Stony Brook / Marine Sciences Research Center / Long Island Groundwater Research Institute, USA, NY, Stony Brook

Project summary

A large number of projects related to the construction of residential and industrial buildings and waterworks, as well as environmental protection activities involve the need to obtain reliable information on the dynamic parameters of ground water.

One of the most promising methods for obtaining such information is the development and manufacture of a mobile hardware and software complex based on a method that employs radioactive tracers. This method involves the inclusion of radionuclides with short half-life periods into ground waters with subsequent sampling of water from possible current locations. The proposed technology for the research of dynamic parameters of ground waters based on the method of radioactive tracers includes equipment for the introduction of radionuclides into ground waters, the methods for preparation of solutions, sampling and measurements, computer processing of the obtained data and drawing up of mathematical models of near-surface watercourses.

The advantages of this method are the following:

· Mobility – creation of a mobile hardware and software complex will solve the problem of deploying all the necessary equipment and instruments at the measurement point.

· Time-efficiency – the use of modern compact portable radiometers or spectrometers and data processing equipment makes it possible to receive information on the dynamic parameters of ground waters in field conditions.
· Environmental safety – the use of radionuclides with short half-life periods does not lead to environmental contamination.
· Reliability – the high sensitivity of the proposed equipment enables reliable detection and mapping of ground waters distribution in near-surface soil layers.

At present, the identification of near-surface water is mostly performed using geophysical methods, including electrical prospecting and seismological techniques, which do not always ensure the accuracy of hydrodynamic parameters. Furthermore, under the conditions of low-speed infiltration of sub ground waters geophysical methods cannot be used at all, and obtaining reliable information usually entails setting up a dense sampling network.

The task of developing a hardware and software complex for the assessment of dynamic parameters of ground waters with radioactive tracers will require highly-qualified and experienced R&D personnel specializing in measurements and calculations of radionuclide activity in various media, as well as experts in hydro-geological research specializing in underground watercourses.

The present project fully corresponds to ISTC goals and objectives, as it provides professional employment for Russian research personnel connected with arms development, who can thus be given the task of developing sophisticated methods and technologies for non-military applications.

As a result of the proposed project, a prototype of the mobile complex and a method for the assessment of dynamic parameters of ground waters in near-surface soil layers using radioactive tracers will be developed. The application of this technology will make it possible to carry out field monitoring activities and to draw up a map of ground waters distribution, which, in turn, will make it possible to solve various problems involving undercuts, sagging and even collapses of various buildings and structures, as well as certain environmental problems at storage sites for chemical, toxic and radioactive materials.

The project will involve the following main activities:

· Research activities aimed at the selection of a radionuclide in a suitable chemical form and of the measurement method and accuracy;

· Developing a method for the preparation of an initial solution of a radioactive tracer, its introduction into soil, as well as a method for sampling and sample preparation;
· Development of a mathematical model of dynamic parameters of subsoil watercourses, including subsoil waters discharge in coastal ocean waters;
· Development of computer software for the automated processing of measurement data;
· Development and manufacture of a prototype mobile complex for experimental field work;
· Carrying out of experiments, both at specialized testing sites and in field conditions.

The project will employ the principle of high-precision measurement of low levels of radioactivity of radionuclides with short half-life periods using up-to-date equipment.

The proposed tasks will be performed in close cooperation with US research institutions, which will involve exchange of information at bilateral seminars and the participation of US researchers in testing the developed methodology and equipment, as well as in technical inspection activities.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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