Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Earth-Science Reviews




103681 (1-26)


Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is now recognized as an important process of the hydrological cycle worldwide and plays a major role as a conveyor of dissolved compounds to the ocean. Naturally occurring radium isotopes (Ra-223, Ra-224, Ra-226 and Ra-228) are widely employed geochemical tracers in marine environments. Whilst Ra isotopes were initially predominantly applied to study open ocean processes and fluxes across the continental margins, their most common application in the marine environment has undoubtedly become the identification and quantification of SGD. This review focuses on the application of Ra isotopes as tracers of SGD and associated inputs of water and solutes to the coastal ocean. In addition, we review i) the processes controlling Ra enrichment and depletion in coastal groundwater and seawater; ii) the systematics applied to estimate SGD using Ra isotopes and iii) we summarize additional applications of Ra isotopes in groundwater and marine studies. We also provide some considerations that will help refine SGD estimates and identify the critical knowledge gaps and research needs related to the current use of Ra isotopes as SGD tracers.


© 2021 The Authors

This is an open access article under the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Creative Commons License.

Original Publication Citation

Garcia-Orellana, J., Rodellas, V., Tamborski, J., ... Michael, H. A., Stieglitz, T., & Scholten, J. (2021). Radium isotopes as submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) tracers: Review and recommendations. Earth-Science Reviews, 220, 1-26, Article 103681.


0000-0003-2422-3252 (Tamborski)