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LECTURE 2: "Hydrogeochemistry: Recent Advances and Opportunities & Challenges Ahead"

LECTURE 2: "Hydrogeochemistry: Recent Advances and Opportunities & Challenges Ahead"

Chemical and isotopic processes occur in every segment of the hydrological cycle. Hydrogeochemistry—the groundwater subdiscipline that studies these processes—has seen a transformation from “witch’s brew” into a credible science. In particular, we have seen tremendous progress in four research areas: the use of isotopic and chemical tracers to quantify groundwater recharge and submarine groundwater discharge, the kinetics of chemical reactions in aquifers, the mineral-water interface’s control of contaminant fate and transport, and microbial processes’ effects on groundwater chemistry.

In the decades ahead, the siting of geological repositories for nuclear waste, geological carbon sequestration, intensified agriculture and nutrient runoff, and rapid urbanization in the less-developed world will challenge the sustainability of water resources in a warming climate. Hydrogeochemistry is front and center in efforts to address many important issues related to these challenges. As the research progresses, we will likely see watershed-scale models that closely link hydrogeochemistry to atmospheric processes and biogeochemical cycles. Technological breakthroughs in mass spectrometers, synchrotron-based techniques, remote logging using geochemical sensors, and big data science will help hydrogeochemistry play a bigger role in water resources management

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