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Environmental isotopes in ground water can be used to evaluate ground-water movement, ground-water age, recharge to the ground-water system, and effects of contamination. Samples collected from the aquifers in Shelby County have been analyzed for environmental isotopes and tracers as part of local and regional investigations. Isotopes of interest in the ground water of Shelby County have included carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Although they are not chemical isotopes, variations in man-made compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) can be similarly applied to ground-water hydrology. Results of water-quality sampling for isotopes and tracers in Shelby County have been used to estimate the age of ground-water recharge, identify areas of recent recharge in the Memphis Sand, evaluate cross-aquifer movement of ground-water near major production fields, and evaluate possible contaminant movement to the Memphis Sand. The application of isotopes to ground-water investigations have improved the understanding of ground-water resources in Shelby County.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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