Tracing techniques are commonly used to investigate groundwater quality and dynamics, as well as to measure the hydrogeological parameters of aquifers. The last decade has seen a growing interest in environmentally friendly tracers, including single-stranded DNA molecules. In this study, an electrolytic tracer and a synthetic DNA tracer are comparatively evaluated in laboratory scale tests to assess their potential application in field studies aimed at investigating groundwater environments. A real-time quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction assay was developed and optimized to detect and quantify the DNA tracer, while tracer column tests were performed to investigate the DNA tracer behavior and to compare it to the electrolytic tracer. The results show that the DNA tracer has an almost pure convective flow, while the KCl tracer experiences dispersive behavior. The tracing method proposed can be applied in hydrogeological field studies involving calcareous fractured rock systems, with the DNA tracer particularly suitable in tracing karst systems, which are often characterized by several conduits of flow. To test the DNA tracer in operation, a preliminary test was conducted in the field.
A DNA tracer used in column tests for hydrogeology applications / Aquilanti, Lucia; Clementi, Francesca; Sara, Landolfo; Nanni, Torquato; Stefano, Palpacelli; Tazioli, Alberto. - In: ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES. - ISSN 1866-6299. - STAMPA. - 70:7(2013), pp. 3143-3154. [10.1007/s12665-013-2379-y]