The dissolved organic iodine species of the isotopic ratio of I-129/I-127: A novel tool for tracing terrestrial organic carbon in the estuarine surface waters of Galveston Bay, Texas

Published in:

Limnology and Oceanography-Methods 3,(2005) 326-337;


Variations in I-129/I-127 ratios were used to trace terrestrial organic carbon (tDOC) across an estuary because (1) iodine is biophilic, up to 75% of total iodine in fresh and coastal marine waters partitions into organic iodine; (2) I-129/I-127 ratios in tDOC are greatly elevated over those from marine systems because atmospheric emissions of I-129 from European nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities were mixed more quickly in the surface ocean, up to 500 m in a decade, than the terrestrial system, which mixed approximately 10 cm in 10 to 50 y; and (3) the oceanic contribution of I-127 (50 to 65 ppb) to the ratio has a greater dilution effect than I-127 from freshwater (0.5 to 40 ppb). Analytical techniques were developed for I-129/I-127 ratio determination in dissolved organic iodine (DOI) and the other iodine species, using dehydrohalogenation, anion chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, and accelerator mass spectrometry, to be applied to samples from Galveston Bay, Texas. Results indicate that I-129/I-127 ratios in DOI from terrestrial sources are elevated in the upper estuary up to salinity of about 20, similar to a behavior previously described for this estuary for stable isotopic signals for dissolved organic matter. I-129/I-127 ratios in the other iodine species, e.g., iodide and iodate, did not show this feature, indicating fast isotopic and chemical equilibration between the two isotopes among the different inorganic species in the estuary. These results thus provide proof of concept that I-129/I-127-DOI can serve as a tracer for tDOC in the coastal zone.


fuel reprocessing facilities;; middle atlantic bight;; arctic-ocean;; seawater samples;; marine waters;; i-129;; speciation;; tracer;; matter;; mississippi

Date of this Version

January 2005

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