New facility for characterising organic matter

Posted 8 July 2012

Josh Larsen analysing water samples from Queensland mangrove systems with the new instrument.

The Connected Waters Initiative team has taken delivery of a new instrument specifically designed for the analysis of fluorescent organic matter in aquatic systems.

The Horiba Aqualog spectrofluorimeter is the first in Australia.

Dissolved organic matter occurs in all water, from ground and surface water to drinking water, and is usually naturally fluorescent.

The Aqualog induces this fluorescence and measures the amount of emitted light.

From these measurements it is possible to both measure and characterise the dissolved organic matter in a water sample.

Most importantly, the analyses require little or no sample preparation, allowing rapid measurement time.

The Aqualog forms part of a suite of instrumentation at the CWI for research and teaching. This includes Turner Designs in-situ fluorescence probes for in-bore organic matter characterisation and an Agilent Cary-50 UV-VIS spectrometer.

The Aqualog has already been used in the analysis of groundwater samples by Dr Adam Hartland from recent fieldwork in the Liverpool Plains and the analysis of water samples from Queensland mangrove systems by Dr Josh Larsen (pictured) in collaboration with the NCGRT's Dr Nina Welti (University of Queensland).

It is next heading to the UNSW Wellington Field Station to analyse ground and surface water samples from the Wellington Caves GEIF site and to be used for teaching field methods to 23 UNSW undergraduate and Masters groundwater scientists.

Further reading:
Mudarra, M., Andreo, B. and Baker, A. 2011. Characterisation of dissolved organic matter in karst spring waters using intrinsic fluorescence: relationship with infiltration processes. Science of the Total Environment, 409, 3448-3462
Hudson, N.J., Baker, A. and Reynolds, D. 2007. Fluorescence analysis of dissolved organic matter in natural, waste and polluted waters - a review. Rivers Research, 23, 631-649.
Baker, A. and Lamont-Black J, 2001. Fluorescence of dissolved organic matter as a natural tracer of ground water. Ground Water, 39: 745-750.
Baker, A., Mockler, N.J. and Barnes, W.L., 1999. Fluorescence intensity variations of speleothem forming groundwaters: implications for palaeoclimate reconstruction. Water Resources Research, 35, 407-413

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