downloadIn Italy, the early times of Isotope Hydrology - the discipline within the Earth Sciences that studies the behavior of hydrological systems using isotopic abundances and their changes in water and environment - were dominated by the figure of Ezio Tongiorgi. Tongiorgi, an eclectic scientist with interests in geology, botany, paleontology, and archaeology, was among the firsts in Europe to foresee the role that nuclear and isotope techniques were going to play in earth sciences. From 1953, he started to apply these techniques in geology, establishing the Laboratorio di Geologia Nucleare (Nuclear Geology Laboratory) of the Pisa University (Gonfiantini, 2011; Water & Environment News 28, pp. 23-27).

In the following years, isotope studies were then conducted a Pisa in the domains of surface waters and groundwater hydrology, glaciology, and geothermal prospection/exploitation. Researchers of the Laboratorio di Geologia Nucleare and of the Centro Studi Geotermici (Center for Geothermal Studies, CGS) of CNR worked on these subjects until early 1970’s, and, lately, researchers of the Istituto Internazionale per le Ricerche Geotermiche (International Institute for Geothermal Research, IIRG) and of the Istituto di Geocronologia e Geochimica Isotopica (Institute of Geochronology and Isotope Geochemistry, IGGI) expanded the field of application by taking advantage of an increasingly larger number of measurable environmental tracers.

In 2002, IIRG and IGGI merged in a new institute named Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse (Institute of Geosciences and Earth-Resources, IGG), still devoted to the application of isotope techniques in hydrology, and related earth sciences.

On August 2002, Roberto Gonfiantini and Costanzo Panichi, two eminent isotope scientists that handed down the scientific legacy of Ezio Tongiorgi, organized the first edition of the IGG’s Short Course on Isotope Hydrology. The aim of this course was to diffuse among post-graduate and PhD students in geology, and researchers with no specific background in isotope geochemistry, some knowledge about the potentiality of environmental isotopes as invaluable tracers to determine age, origin, and pathway of water movement, to recognize mixing of different groundwater bodies, and to infer the origin of various dissolved salts and/or contaminants.

Since this very first edition, the focus of all the seminars delivered in the course was on the importance of a “Earth System”, i.e. multi-disciplinary and multi-parametric approach in hydrology and environmental science.

Over the years, the course has been successfully opened to graduate students, engineers, consultants in geology, and technical personnel of private companies and public institutions devoted to the management of water resources.


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