The Use of Microorganisms as Ground‐Water Tracers: A Review

Bruce H. Keswick, De‐Shin ‐S Wang, Charles P Gerba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Microbial contamination of ground water results in numerous disease outbreaks each year. Tracing their movement in ground water is therefore essential. Bacteria, viruses, yeasts and spores have been used for this purpose and to trace underground movement of water in much the same manner as chemical tracers are used. Chemical tracers do not always reflect the movement of microorganisms in ground water. The use of certain bacteria and animal viruses is undesirable due to their pathogenic potential and difficulties in their differentiation from background, naturally‐occurring organisms. Bacterial viruses appear to be the microorganisms most suited as a microbial tracer because of their size, ease of assay and lack of pathogenicity. Bacteriophages have been used to trace ground‐water movement over distances of 1,600 meters and can be used under a variety of conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The Use of Microorganisms as Ground‐Water Tracers: A Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this