The new method offers several advantages: firstly, noble gases are not contaminants – they do not affect the odour, taste or biological activity of water. Secondly, water can be labelled with different gases simultaneously at different sites, and the measurements can then be used to study more complex situations. Thirdly, thanks to the mobile mass spectrometer, analysis is extremely rapid. It runs virtually in real time, with no need for samples to be transported and processed at a laboratory.
Healing of gashes over time
In tests carried out on the Alpine Rhine, labelling of water with noble gases proved effective. As reported in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Water, the results were consistent with those obtained in parallel experiments using dye tracers. In addition, the measurements performed over a period of more than half a year showed that the initial changes resulting from excavation of the river bed disappear over time, as large cavities are once again filled with fine material.