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Report of the Meeting on Groundwater inflow and Modelling at Fukushima

A team of IAEA and external experts visited Japan from 15 – 19 February 2016 to hold technical meetings with TEPCO and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) related to the modelling of groundwater flow at the Fukushima NPS. The meetings focused on issues related to the calibration and validation of the model, including data from various countermeasures that are currently in place. The IAEA team also participated in a technical seminar to facilitate a wider exchange of information on the nature of groundwater inflow at the NPS. Japanese participants in this seminar included those from several academic, research and related institutions. A summary report of the meeting that includes a list of participants is available HERE.

Meeting on Groundwater inflow and Modelling at Fukushima: 15-19 Feb 2016

Following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, inflow of groundwater into the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (NPS) has resulted in the accumulation of significant quantities of contaminated water every day. The storage and treatment of contaminated water are among the biggest challenges, requiring immediate and comprehensive countermeasures to reduce groundwater inflow, such as groundwater by-pass and sub-drain pumping systems, impermeable walls with a soil freezing method, seaside impermeable walls, etc.

A meeting of Japanese and international experts was held at the IAEA on 8 – 10 September 2014 to discuss groundwater contamination following the accident at the Fukushima NPS, which concluded that the IAEA could consider the following activities to further assist Japan in its efforts at the Fukushima NPS by cooperating in:

i.  a fact-finding visit composed of international experts to conduct a field survey and review the modelling of groundwater, focusing on the issues related to the calibration and validation of the model.

ii.  a workshop or seminar covering overall groundwater issues both on-site and off-site, which may also be open to the public, to enhance the understanding of and confidence in the associated challenges, solutions and perspectives.

Subsequently, the 3rd Mission of the International Peer Review of Mid-and-Long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Units 1-4 (3rd Decommissioning Mission) was conducted on 9 – 17 February 2015. One of the advisory points given by the mission team was that TEPCO should consider producing a better calibrated, robust groundwater model, which would allow TEPCO to continuously evaluate and optimize the performance of various countermeasures taken at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS.

As a follow up, a team of IAEA and external experts will visit Japan from 15 – 19 February 2016. The team will hold technical meetings with TEPCO and the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI). The meetings will focus on issues related to the calibration and validation of the model, including data from various countermeasures that are currently in place. The IAEA team will also participate in a technical seminar, that will include Japanese experts from other institutions besides TEPCO and METI, to facilitate a wider exchange of information that will help to enhance people's understanding of the nature of groundwater inflow.

The IAEA will publish a summary report of the meeting after the experts' visit.

WICO 2016 International Water Isotope Inter-Comparison Test

The Isotope Hydrology Laboratory of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is pleased to announce the 2016 water isotope inter-comparison for international laboratory performance assessment of deuterium (2H) and oxygen isotope (18O) assays of natural water samples, by isotope-ratio mass spectrometry and laser spectrometry methods. Laboratories will benefit from participation in this test by i) identification of potential performance areas identified in individualized lab testing scores, and ii) through the collective analysis of combined participant results, which may help to inform improved water isotope analyses by all types of instrumental measurement technologies. For more information and to Register, please click HERE, or email the WICO Team

The IAEA launches a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled "Use of Long-lived Radionuclides for Dating Very Old Groundwaters" (F33023)

The increasing global water demand for agriculture, domestic and industrial uses, combined with the impact of pollution and climate change on surface waters, is forcing local water authorities to explore and exploit deeper aquifer systems, containing older groundwater, probably recharged thousands of years ago or at distant areas. A proper understanding of the origin, history and dynamics of old groundwaters found in deep aquifers is a key pre-requisite for the assessment of the reliability and potential of these resources as a major source of water supply in medium and long-terms. Estimation of groundwater age through the combined use of isotope methods and groundwater flow modelling is the common approach used for developing the required level of knowledge in the case of groundwater pumped from deep aquifers.

The CRP aims to assess the usefulness of the recently available long-lived radionuclides, isotope age tracers and noble gases (Carbon-14, Krypton-81, Chlorine-36, Helium-4, etc…), coupled with groundwater flow modelling to better understand and assess deep groundwater systems as long-term source of water supply.

The objective of the CRP is to use environmental isotopes and noble gases to quantify age, recharge rate and discharge flow estimates for selected study areas using the 81Kr method, the 4He accumulation method and other complementary groundwater dating tools and to establish field guidelines for routine sampling techniques of dissolved gases in deep aquifer systems under different hydrogeological settings. The CRP seeks to improve expertise among participating Member States in the planning and implementation of environmental isotope studies for the assessment of groundwater dynamics and age of deep aquifer systems.

For more information on submission procedure please visit IAEA CRP website


For further information or questions please contact Mr Takuya Matsumoto and Mr Luis J. Araguas Araguas.

New Release of Data Processing Software for Isotope Analyses of Waters by Laser Spectrometry

The Isotope Hydrology Laboratory (IHL) has partnered with the USGS to develop a new version of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for water oxygen (18O, 17O) and hydrogen (2H) isotopes specifically for users of all laser absorption spectrographs (LIMS for Lasers 2015). Laser spectroscopy has revolutionized the analysis of the stable isotopes of water through easy-to-use and robust instrumentation; however the data has not been so easy to work with due to inter-sample memory artefacts, instrumental drift, overwhelming amounts of data, and improper user calibration of results.

These problems are overcome by the adoption of LIMS for Lasers 2015, which automates many of these correction processes, and using systematic approaches has the effect of improving quality assurance, increasing laboratory efficiency, and decreasing laboratory errors. The software is available cost-free from the IAEA and USGS website.

For further information, please contact Mr Len Wassenaar

New Coordinated Research Project Launched

The IAEA launches a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled "Isotopes to Study Nitrogen Pollution and Eutrophication of Rivers and Lakes" (F32007).

Water quality in thousands of lakes and rivers around the globe is deteriorating due to rising nutrient levels and other chemical pollutants mainly of anthropogenic origin (e.g., agriculture, sewage, industrial discharges, and urban areas) causing changes in their ecological structure and function. This CRP will focus on exploring the use of nitrogen isotopes in N-nutrient dynamics in selected freshwater systems (lakes and rivers) facing eutrophication, nitrogen pollution, and cycling. This CRP aims to improve the suite of isotopic markers combined with other chemical / biological substances to better define the possible sources and re-cycling of nitrogen pollution in surface water bodies.

The CRP also aims to deepen the knowledge on the temporal (diel, seasonal) and in-depth variation of nitrogen isotope data, combined with additional substances, as deeper water bodies may sometimes prevent a complete understanding of nitrogen isotope dynamics from surface water collections. Moreover, improving conventional and exploring new methodologies on nitrogen species isotopic characteristics is expected to facilitate access to a more routine and low-cost use of nitrogen and oxygen isotope data of nitrogen species. Overall, the CRP will aim at improving expertise and collaboration among participating Member States in the use of environmental isotopes to better assess nitrogen pollution and eutrophication of lakes and rivers for optimal water resources management and remediation strategies.

For more information on submission procedure please visit IAEA CPR website

CRP PROPOSAL DEADLINE: 2 October 2015. For further information or questions please contact Mr I. Matiatos

Isotope Hydrology

Books and Publications

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IAEA-Tecdoc No. 1723

The IAEA Technical documents summarizing results of Coordinated Research Projects and technical cooperation projects involving the use of isotope techniques in hydrology.

Find all technical document publications in PDF.

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Proceedings from conferences on isotope hydrology, water resources, and environmental change — including oral and poster presentations — dating back to 1963.
Find all symposium
publications in PDF.

STI/PUB/1580(ISBN:978-92-0-135610-9)529 pp.
205 figures;90.00 Euro;

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Handbooks in isotope hydrology and specialized publications on concrete hydrological applications of isotope techniques dating from the 1970s until today.

Find all monograph publications in PDF.

Morocco Atlas

Atlas of Isotope Hydrology

The sustainablity of groundwater resources for drinking water supplies, agriculture, and industry is a prime concern in countries dominated by arid and semi-arid climates such as Morocco. Full text

STI/PUB/1480, 2010, ISBN 978-92-0-111010-7,


Atlas of Isotope Hydrology
The Americas

It was completed in 2009, and it focuses on about
19 000 isotope records from 150 projects in 23 IAEA Member States in the Americas where environmental isotopes were used to assess water resources between 1968 and 2008. Full text

STI/PUB/1423, 2009, ISBN 978-92-0-110009-2,
English. 110.00 Euro.

Asia and the Pacific

Atlas of Isotope Hydrology
Asia and the Pacific

It was released in 2008, and focuses on about 105 projects in 16 Member States carried out between 1973 and 2007, and includes maps, statistics and data plots created from nearly 16 000 isotope records. Full text

STI/PUB/1364, 2008, ISBN 978-92-0-111008-4,
English. 110.00 Euro.


Atlas of Isotope Hydrology

It was the first atlas made, and was released in 2007. It involved the gathering of nearly 10 500 isotope records from about 80 IAEA projects in 26 African countries from 1973 to 2007. Groundwater provides nearly 2/3 of drinking water on the continent. Full text

STI/PUB/1302, 2007, ISBN 978-92-0-107207-8,
English. 110.00 Euro.

Water Environment News

Water & Environment Newsletter

The Isotope Hydrology newsletter - produced twice a year- contains the latest information as well as project insights. The hard copy is for distribution to individuals and institutions in IAEA Member States free of charge upon request, subject to availability.

All of the published issues of the newsletter are available here on-line in PDF format.

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Global Network of Isotope in Precipitation

This joint IAEA/WMO programme – monitoring isotopes in precipitation for the past 50 years – provides information for hydrological and other applications.

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Climate Change and the Atom

Developing the right response to climate change requires that we understand the science behind it. Isotopes in marine sediments, ice cores and other paleoclimatic archives can help reconstruct the
world´s climate history, including impact on the hydrological cycle.

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Water Resources Programme Leaflet

This Leaflet explains ‘Solutions Through Science’ and how this motto is applied by the Water Resources Programme.

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Water Resources Programme Brochure

The IAEA has been a pioneer in developing isotope hydrology as a powerful and effective scientific approach. Find out how the programme supports Member States in water resources management.

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Responsible/Contact: Isotope Hydrology Section | Last update: 01 June 2016