Geologist injecting dye into streamWater traces have been performed throughout Missouri for a number of years and for many different reasons. Tracers such as feathers and wheat chaff were used in an effort to determine the water source of springs and cave streams. However, early water tracing techniques offered questionable results and they caused water supplies to be unusable for periods of time. Technological advances incorporate the use of nontoxic fluorescent tracer dye and scanning spectrofluorometers into the science of water tracing and provide a safe and effective alternative to previous methods.

Groundwater investigations, cave exploration, well installation methods, and engineering aspects related to leaking dams are a few instances when water traces are performed today.

Each person conducting a water trace in Missouri must be registered and must register each trace as required by Missouri State Statute 256.621, RSMo. This is an effort to collect and store data, prevent interference or overlapping of traces, and increase public awareness and knowledge about the importance of water tracing. To view groundwater traces continue to GeoSTRAT.

Dyeing to Follow the Water – Article in Missouri Resources magazine featuring Cecil Boswell, technical assistant with the department, who conducts water traces and provides technical assistance to industry and researchers who also conduct water traces.

Where Does the Water Go ... and how do we know?Missouri Resources magazine article featuring research in a spectacular mile-long collapsed cave system in Grand Gulf State Park.