Sulfur and strontium isotope composition of the Llobregat River (NE Spain): Tracers of natural and anthropogenic chemicals in stream waters

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Water Air and Soil Pollution
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The use of sulfur and strontium isotopes as tracers for the source/s of water contaminants have been applied to the water of the Llobregat River system (NE Spain). Surface water samples from June 1997 were collected from the Llobregat River and its main tributaries and creeks. The chemistry of most stream waters are controlled mainly by the weathering of Tertiary chemical sediments within the drainage basin. The largest variation in delta(34)S values were found in the small creeks with values ranging from -9.9 to 15parts per thousand, whilst in the main river channels values ranged from 6.3 to 12.4parts per thousand. The Sr-87/Sr-86 ratio for dissolved strontium ranged from 0.70795 for a non-polluted site to 0.70882 for a polluted one. Most of the waters with high NO3 and low Ca/Na ratio converge to the same Sr-87/Sr-86 value, pointing to dominant pollutant end member contribution or a mixing of pollutants with an isotopic composition around 0.7083-0.7085. Although the concentration of the natural inputs in the river for sulfate and strontium are high, as a result of the sulfate outcrops within the geology of the basin, their isotopic characteristics suggest that they can be used as a discriminating device in water pollution problems. However to establish the detailed characteristics of the isotopes as geochemical tools, specific high-resolution case studies are necessary in small areas, where the inputs are well known.


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