Multi-isotopic and compositional exploration of factors controlling nitrate pollution

In Catalonia, according to the nitrate directive (91/676/EU), nine areas have been declared as vulnerable to nitrate pollution from agricultural sources (Decret 283/1998 and Decret 479/2004). Five of these areas have been studied coupling hydro chemical data with a multi-isotopic approach (Vitòria et al. 2005, Otero et al. 2007, Puig et al. 2007), in an ongoing research project looking for an integrated application of classical hydrochemistry data, with a comprehensive isotopic characterisation (δ15N and δ18O of dissolved nitrate, δ34S and δ18O of dissolved sulphate, δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon, and δD and δ18O of water). Within this general frame, the contribution presented explores compositional ways of: (i) distinguish agrochemicals and manure N pollution, (ii) quantify natural attenuation of nitrate (denitrification), and identify possible controlling factors. To achieve this two-fold goal, the following techniques have been used. Separate biplots of each suite of data show that each studied region has a distinct δ34S and pH signatures, but they are homogeneous with regard to NO3- related variables. Also, the geochemical variables were projected onto the compositional directions associated with the possible denitrification reactions in each region. The resulting balances can be plot together with some isotopes, to assess their likelihood of occurrence ​
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