The four naturally-occurring radium isotopes (223Ra, 224Ra, 226Ra and 228Ra) were used to estimate the submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) in the Isola La Cura marsh area in the northern Venice Lagoon (Italy). By determining the radium contributors to the study area (river, coastal ocean and sediments) the radium excess in the lagoon water was quantified through a mass balance model. This radium excess is attributed to a submarine groundwater discharge source and represents the most important input of radium. Possible endmembers were considered from analysis of groundwater samples (subtidal and marsh piezometers, marsh wells and seepage meters) that were enriched in Ra by one to two orders of magnitude relative to surface waters. In particular, a permeable layer at 80 cm depth in the surrounding marsh is considered to be representative of the most likely SGD source, although similar radium activities were measured in other subtidal porewater samples collected in the Isola La Cura area. The estimated SGD flux to the study area ranged from 1 · 109 to 6 · 109 L·d- 1, the same order of magnitude as the overall riverine input to the lagoon (3 · 109 L·d- 1). A major fraction of this SGD flux is likely recirculated seawater, as evidenced by the endmember salinity. The water residence time of 2 days was estimated by both using the shortest-lived radium isotope and estimating the volume of water exchanged between the lagoon and the open sea during a tidal cycle (tidal prism approach). This SGD flux could be used to estimate the input of other chemical species (metals, nutrients, etc.) via SGD which might affect the Venice Lagoon ecosystem. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Mass balance
- Radium isotopes
- Submarine groundwater discharge
- Venice Lagoon