Isotope Hydrology

  • U. K. SinhaEmail author
  • K. Tirumalesh
  • Hemant V. Mohokar


Environmental isotopes were introduced into the study of hydrological cycle during the mid-nineteenth century as complementary tools to existing methods like geology, geochemistry, geophysics, etc. for addressing problems pertaining to movement of water, pathways of streams, residence times of groundwater, etc. However, the applications of environmental isotopes as potential tools to unravel many hidden processes and factors governing water, its source and dynamics in all stages of hydrological cycle have gained momentum after the introduction of advanced instruments for isotope measurement of water. In recent times, the critical information that is being obtained from isotopic tools is precipitation contribution to groundwater, efficacy of recharge structures for augmenting groundwater supplies, source and mechanism of groundwater contamination and its transport, sustainability of deep groundwater, etc. The common isotopes that are widely used include 2H, 18O, 13C, 15N and 34S which are stable in nature and 222Rn, 3H and 14C, which are radioactive in nature. While stable isotopes help in understanding the source and mechanism of groundwater recharge based on their natural distribution over space and time, the radioisotopes help in understanding the groundwater residence times and dynamics of any given water system due to their inherent radioactive decay.


Environmental isotopes Oxygen-18 Deuterium Tritium Carbon-14 Global meteoric water line 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. K. Sinha
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Tirumalesh
    • 1
  • Hemant V. Mohokar
    • 1
  1. 1.Isotope Hydrology Section, Isotope and Radiation Application DivisionBhabha Atomic Research CentreMumbaiIndia

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