Variations of U and Sr isotope ratios in Alsace and Luxembourg rain waters: Origin and hydrogeochemical implications

François Chabaux, Jean Riotte, Anne Désirée Schmitt, Jean Carignan, Pierre Herckes, Marie Claire Pierret, Henry Wortham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Major and trace element concentrations, as well as Sr and U isotope ratios, were measured in rainwater samples collected in three different locations in Alsace (East of France) and Luxembourg: a mid-altitude mountain site (Aubure Environment HydroGeochemical Observatory), an urban site (Strasbourg) and a peri-urban site located in an area of well developed industrial activity (Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg). Results highlight the quite high spatial and temporal variability of the chemical and isotopic characteristics of rainwater at the regional scale. They also suggest a quite systematic contribution of a local component in the chemical composition of rainwater. In urban and peri-urban sites, the local component is certainly linked to human activities, as it is well illustrated in this study with the Esch-sur-Alzette samples. On the other hand, for the Aubure site, i.e. a small forested watershed of mid-altitude mountain, data presented in this study demonstrate the influence of the vegetation on the chemical composition of rainwater for alkali and calc-alkali elements, as well as for the Sr isotope ratios. Such a result questions the reliability of the method classically used to estimate the rainwater contribution on the river chemical budget. In addition, data of the present study confirm the very low content of uranium in rainwater and demonstrate, especially through the U isotope analysis of Aubure rainwater, the negligible effect of rainwater on U budget of river waters. This work thus outlines the property of U to be a geochemical tracer specific of weathering fluxes carried by rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1456
Number of pages10
JournalComptes Rendus - Geoscience
Issue number16
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Luxembourg
  • Rainwater composition
  • Rhine valley
  • Sr Isotope ratios
  • U Isotope ratios

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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