The 1st Science Symposium at GUtech – The Role of Isotopes in our Environment

HALBAN To discuss certain topics related to natural sciences, the 1st Science Symposium was inaugurated last week at GUtech. “The idea to this special symposium came up during the preparations for the upcoming 10th anniversary at GUtech,” said Prof. Dr. Bernhard Heim, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Head of the Department of Mathematics and Sciences. “During a number of talks we would like to showcase and promote our research projects to the general public,” said Prof. Dr. Ing. Modigell Rector of GUtech during his inaugural speech. The coming days will consist of public presentations about “Wavelets and the Abel Prize”, as well as Mathematical Publishing and the “History of Chemistry”.

The first talk of the Symposium was given by Dr. Gerhard Strauch, guest researcher at the HelmholtzCenter in Germany and fly-in professor in Hydrochemistry at GUtech’s Department for Applied Geosciences. Dr Gerhard is the editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed international journal “Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies”. Dr Gerhard has been supervising several BSc and PhD thesis projects in Oman, all related to isotope hydrogeology investigations in Oman, in the Dhofari mountains. There fossil water, modern water and monsoon water could be detected.

According to Dr. Gerhard the research field of isotopes is a young scientific field. “Water has chemistry, it has smell, and the water molecule consists of different isotopes. Isotopes from light elements as hydrogen and oxygen are valuable tools for the understanding of processes in the nature and the influences of human beings on our environment,” said Prof. Gerhard during his presentation that focused on water isotopes and its use for source assessment, recharge processes but also in the drinking water industry. The Earth crust and surface and the atmosphere are characterized by larger variations of isotopes due to isotope fractionation processes. Especially in hot climate zones heavy isotopes of water are more concentrated in rain and air because of thermodynamic and kinetic causes compared to more humid or colder climate zones. This effect can be used to increase the understanding of groundwater resources and particularly their exploration in Dhofar region. Fossil water as detected by isotope investigations is a non-renewable resource, very precious. Dr Gerhard mentioned that the investigations on groundwater resources in Dhofar by use of isotopes are currently ongoing under the project funding by the The Research Council (TRC) and the Helmholtz Association in Germany. This project was implemented to encourage young Omani scientists to collaborate together and to strengthen the water management management in Dhofar and Oman.

According to Prof. Gerhard researchers have found a decrease in isotopes in certain climate zones such as the Antarctic. Moreover, the audience experienced that the application of isotopes is a valuable and increasing tool in quality assurance of processed food and promotes as well human health and health research. .


Caption: Dr. Gerhard Strauch, guest scientist at the German Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, during his presentation held at GUtech.


(c) Text: GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Dr. Gerhard Strauch


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