hydrologyDeuterium oxide (heavy water; 2H20; D20) when injected into the water table gives direct insight into the movement and distribution of groundwater within the aquifer. Deuterium analyses allows detection in small amounts enabling scientists to follow its movement and therefore providing key information on how and where water is flowing (groundwater hydrology). Hydrology using deuterium as a tracer is applied in environmental studies, water and waste-water mapping, and more recently in monitoring of “fracking” used in exploration for natural gas by oil field services and applications or as a tracer in drilling fluids (used to determine if drilling fluid penetrated the core) and geological research departments. As there are no harmful chemicals associated with deuterium oxide and deuterium oxide is a stable isotope, its hydrology applications cause no environmental hazards. For information on deuterium oxide in hydrology applications please click here:

Core Hydrology Patent

To order deuterium-based products for hydrology applications please contact sales@isowater.com.


What is Hydrology?

Hydrology refers to the areas of research which concern the movement of water within a given state, between states, or the amount which is present in a given area. Due to the broad nature of the concept and area of study, it applies to a wide range of aspects. Some parts of hydrology include developing methods for directly measuring the amount of water, or the flow of water, while other areas concern creating theoretical models of how water acts in a given situation.

In this process, tracers are commonly used in order to accurately track and monitor the water streams. The tracer is added into the liquid which is to be monitored, and due to its chemical nature, is able to be specifically recognized by the analyzing software (generally through the use of complex algorithms and software). An environmentally harmless and popular solution is to use deuterium as the tracer in this process.



History of Hydrology

For thousands of years, hydrology has been investigated and studied by scientists. Some of the earliest signs of hydrology was around 4000B.C.E., when the Nile was damed to improve the productivity of agricultural land that had been previously barren. Since then, massive improvements in the field of hydrology have been made, bringing along a variety of new branches. No longer is hydrology limited to the study of how surface water acts, but now also includes how pollutants travel in the ground, the monitoring process of “fracking,” and many other areas. When deuterium was popularized after its discovery, the field of hydrology once again changed, as isotopic variances in the hydrogen atoms in water altered how the molecules acted.


Early Measurement Techniques of Deuterium

In the years leading up to the second world war, the leading analytical tool for measuring the variations of isotopic abundance in water was based on the difference between light and heavy water. Later, these measurements were improved dramatically such that they were accurate to one part in ten million. The increase in accuracy was a result of the use of mass spectrometers and better technique. As a result, a fair amount of the early work done in the field of deuterium-related hydrology, while useful in indicating that variations in abundances occurs, was of limited quantitative use as more accurate values were later found thus altering the findings.


Information on Deuterium

Pure heavy water, D2O, is the oxide of the heavy stable isotope of hydrogen, deuterium, denoted by the symbols 2H or D. Physically and chemically it is almost identical to ordinary “light” water, H2O, however, its density is 10% higher. It is this higher density which gives the compound its nickname, “heavy water.” However, deuterium is not only limited to a liquid water format, but also can be turned into many other products like gas.


For more information on our deuterium facility and team click here.