David Widory


Traçage des polluants dans
l'atmosphère et les systèmes aquatiques
Traçage agroalimentaire

Université du Québec à Montréal
Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère

widory.david [at] uqam.ca (widory[dot]david[at]uqam[dot]ca)

I am an isotope geochemist. Since my PhD (1996-1999), I have studied several isotope systematics (both stable and radiogenic isotopes) trying to bring answers to environmental issues. My approach has always been in favour of a multi-isotope approach rather than working with a single proxy.

My 4 main domains of research are:

• Air pollution
High concentrations of fine particles are found in the air of big cities, which can be up to 300 µg.m-3 for PM10 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter <10 µm). As fine atmospheric particles have a damaging effect on Public Health, they have recently become a cause of major concern.

I used several isotope systematics (C, N, Pb, Sr, Cd, Zn, Hg and Cr isotopes) to better constrain the origin of TSP, PM10 and PM2.5 in the atmosphere of Paris (France) and Beijing (China). Among the different conclusions, we clearly demonstrated that air particles have to be regarded as a multi-layer agglomeration of elements from various origins that may even have undergone secondary processes.

• Water pollution
Current approach to environmental management and control of water quality is mainly based on monitoring concentrations. Chemical data alone do not permit to establish unambiguously the type, location and contribution of the different sources of pollution in a water basin. In particular, differentiating urban and agricultural origin is impossible (even by increasing the number of monitoring stations or samples). Thus, the design and implementation of specifically targeted management plans for pollution control is improbable.

My research mainly focused on using a multi-isotope approach (δ15N & δ18O of NO3 and δ11B) to constrain sources and processes controlling the NO3 pollution in surface and ground- water bodies. I coordinated between 2006 and 2010 the European LIFE ISONO3 project (http://isonitrate.brgm.fr).

More recently I turned my attention to the isotope compositions of organic compounds in water, and in particular the δ13C (and the δ15N in a near future) of the worldwide best seller Glyphosate herbicide (and its main metabolite AMPA).

• Forensic
The very first published isotope analysis of explosives dates back to 1975 (Nissenbaum, Journal of Forensic Sciences): the author used carbon isotope compositions for discriminating trinitrotoluene (TNT) samples from different countries. Since then, isotopes have clearly proved their added value for discriminating the different types of explosives as well as for potentially being used to retrace the geographical origin of ceased samples. My research first consisted in the multi-isotope characterisation (C, H, O and N isotope systematics) of TNT, PETN and ANFO explosives. More recently I have tried to extend this characterisation to other isotopes such as those of Li, Sr and Pb. The latest present the great advantage of not being isotopically shifted following the blast process, and could thus be directly used on residue samples collected on crime scenes.

I am a member of the steering group of the Forensic IRMS (FIRMS; http://www.forensic-isotopes.org), whose purpose is to raise awareness of the relevance and importance of IRMS in forensic science, crime detection and reduction.

• CO2 sequestration
The long-term safety of future carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in aquifers will not only rely on a comprehensive geological characterisation of the formation and capillary seal, but also on the monitoring of the underground migration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Remediation plans should be designed to perform necessary corrections to avoid CO2 escaping to the atmosphere in case leakage or any other undesired behaviour is observed. It is, however, necessary that deep-probing monitoring tools can detect any leakage early enough so that corrective effective measures can be taken.

I was part of the CO2FieldLab project (http://www.sintef.no/projectweb/co2fieldlab/) that gathered a consortium of industries and scientific institutes. This project consisted in a controlled release of CO2 in a shallow (20 m depth) sandy aquifer in a Norwegian field (in Svelvik). We monitored chemical parameters as well as the δ13C and δ18O of CO2 and the δD and δ18O of water to model the migration of the leaking CO2 bubble towards the surface.

During my career I also worked on diverse projects dealing with, among other topics, CO2 and CH4 emissions from landfills, CO2 in the urban atmosphere, human respiration, tree leaves, influence of hydraulic fracturation on the quality of the surrounding groundwater...

Morera-Gómez, Y., Santamaría, J.M., Elustondo, D., Alonso-Hernández, C.M., Widory, D., 2018. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes unravels sources of aerosol contamination at Caribbean rural and urban coastal sites. Science of the Total Environment 642, 723-732. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.06.106

Puig, R., Soler, A., Widory, D., Mas-Pla, J., Domènech, C., Otero, N., 2017Characterizing sources and natural attenuation of nitrate contamination in the Baix Ter aquifer system (NE Spain) using a multi-isotope approachScience of the Total Environment 580, 518-532.


Au Yang, D., Landais, G., Assayag, N., Widory, D., Cartigny, P., 2016Improved analysis of micro- and nanomole-scale sulfur multi-isotope compositions by gas source isotope ratio mass spectrometryRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 30 (7), 897-907.

Ciężka, M., Modelska, M., Górka, M., Trojanowska-Olichwer, A., Widory, D., 2016Chemical and isotopic interpretation of major ion compositions from precipitation: a one-year temporal monitoring study in Wrocław, SW PolandJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry 73 (1), 61-80.

Vinciguerra, V., Stevenson, R., Pedneault, K., Poirier, A., Hélie, J.-F., Widory, D., 2016Strontium isotope characterization of wines from Quebec, CanadaFood Chemistry 210, 121-128.


Amiri, H., Zare, M., Widory, D., 2015Assessing sources of nitrate contamination in the Shiraz urban aquifer (Iran) using the δ15N and δ18O dual-isotope approachIsotopes in Environmental and Health Studies 51(3), 392-410.

Vautour, G., Poirier, A., Widory, D., 2015Tracking mobility using human hair: What can we learn from lead and strontium isotopes? Science & Justice 55 (1), 63-71


Humez, P., Négrel, P., Lagneau, V., Lions, J., Kloppmann, W., Gal, F., Millot, R., Guerrot, C., Fléhoc, C., Widory, D., Girard, J.F. 2014. CO2-water-mineral reactions during CO2 leakage: Geochemical and isotopic monitoring of a CO2 injection field test, Chemical Geology, vol. 368, pp. 11-30.

Jones, D.G., Barkwith, A.K.A.P., Hannis, S., Lister, T.R., Gal, F., Graziani, S., Beaubien, S.E., Widory, D. 2014, Monitoring of near surface gas seepage from a shallow injection experiment at the CO2 Field Lab, Norway, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, vol. 28, pp. 300-317.


Gal, F., Proust, E., Humez, P., Braibant, G., Brach, M., Koch, F., Widory, D., Girard, J.F. 2013. Inducing a CO2 leak into a shallow aquifer (CO2FieldLab EUROGIA+ project): Monitoring the CO2 plume in groundwaters, Energy Procedia, vol. 37, pp. 3538-3593.

Giustini, F., Blessing, M., Brilli, M., Lombardi, S., Voltattorni, N., Widory, D. 2013, Determining the origin of carbon dioxide and methane in the gaseous emissions of the San Vittorino plain (Central Italy) by means of stable isotopes and noble gas analysis, Applied Geochemistry, vol. 34, pp. 90-101.

Kujawinski, D.M., Wolbert, J.B., Zhang, L., Jochmann, M.A., Widory, D., Baran, N., Schmidt, T.C. 2013, Carbon isotope ratio measurements of glyphosate and AMPA by liquid chromatography coupled to isotope ratio mass spectrometry, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 405 (9), 2869-2878.

Widory, D., Petelet-Giraud, E., Brenot, A., Bronders, J., Tirez, K., Boeckx, P. 2013, Improving the management of nitrate pollution in water by the use of isotope monitoring: The δ15N, δ18O and δ11B triptych, Isotopes in environmental and health studies, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 29-47. 


Bronders, J., Tirez, K., Desmet, N., Widory, D., Petelet-Giraud, E., Bregnot, A., Boeackx, P. 2012. Use of compond-specific nitrogen (δ15N), oxygen (δ18O) and bulk boron (δ11B) isotope ratio to identify sources of nitrate-contaminated waters: A guideline to identify polluters, Environmental Forensics, 13(1), pp. 32-38.

Widory, D., Proust, E., Bellenfant, G., Bour, O. 2012. Assessing methane oxidation under landfill covers and its contribution to the above atmospheric CO2 levels: The added value of the isotope (δ13C and δ18O CO2; δ13C and δD CH4) approach, Waste Management, 32, 1685-1692.


刘咸德,朱祥坤,董树屏,李玉武,Widory, D.,杨红霞,李冰. 2011. 北京市大气颗粒物分级样品的铅同位素丰度比测量与来源研究, 质谱学报, 32, 151-158.

Lerouge, C., Grangeon, S., Gaucher, E.C., Tournassat, C., Agrinier, P., Guerrot, C., Widory, D., Fléhoc, C., Wille, G., Ramboz, C., Vinsot, A., Buschaert, S. 2011. Mineralogical and isotopic record of biotic and abiotic diagenesis of the Callovian-Oxfordian clayey formation of Bure (France), Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 2633-2663.


Widory, D., Xiande, L., Dong, S. 2010. Isotopes as tracers of sources of lead and strontium in aerosols (TSP & PM2.5) in Beijing, Atmospheric Environment, 44, 3679-3687.

Tirez, K, Wilfried Brusten, A, Widory, D. Petelet, E. Bregnot, A., Xue, D., Boeckxc, P., Bronders, J. 2010. Boron isotope ratio (d11B) measurements in WFD monitoring programs: comparison between double focusing sector field ICP (SF-ICP-MS) and thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS), Journal of Analytical Atomic. Spectrometry, 25, 964-974.

Widory, D., Petelet-Giraud, E., Le Bihan, O., Le Moullec, Y., Quetel, C., Snell, J., Van Bocxstaele, M., Hure, A., Canard, E., Joos, E., Forti, L., Bullen, T., Johnson, T. 2010. Les métaux dans les particules atmosphériques : les isotopes peuvent-ils aider à discriminer les pôles d’émission potentiels ?, Pollution Atmosphérique, Numéro Spécial – Septembre 2010, 75-81.


Widory, D., Minet, J.J., Barbe-Le Borgne, M. 2009. Fingerprinting explosives: A multi-isotope approach. Science & Justice, 49, 62-72.

Widory, D., Négrel, P. 2009. Urban aerosols, Géosciences, 10, 46-53.


Widory, D., Fiani, E. 2008. De l’intérêt des isotopes comme traceurs des sources et processus affectant les particules atmosphériques. Pollution Atmosphérique, 197, 93-104.


Widory, D. 2007. Nitrogen isotopes: tracers of origin and processes affecting PM10 in the atmosphere of Paris. Atmospheric Environment, 41, 11, 2382-2390.


Widory, D. 2006. Combustion, fuels and their combustion products (CO2 and particles): A view through carbon isotopes. Combustion Theory and Modelling, 10, 5, 831-841.

Widory, D. 2006. Lead isotopes decipher multiple origins within PM10 in the atmosphere of Paris. Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies. 42, 1, 97-105.

Petelet-Giraud, E., Negrel, P., Widory, D. 2006 Caractérisation des circulations au sein d'une nappe alluviale à l'aide des isotopes du strontium : champ captant du Chambon (Allier), La Houille blanche, 1, 82-90.


Widory, D., Petelet-Giraud, E., Negrel, P., Ladouche, B. 2005. Tracking the sources of nitrate in groundwater using coupled nitrogen and boron isotopes: A synthesis. Environmental Science & Technology, 39, 539-548.

Fouillac, A.M., Cocherie, A., Girard, J.P., Guerrot, C., Innocent, C., Millot, R., Motelica, M., Sanjuan, B., Widory, D. 2005. Isotopic tracers: Sources and Processes. Oil & Gas Science and Technology, 60, 5, 923-935.


Negrel, PH., Petelet-Giraud, E., Widory, D. 2004. Strontium isotope geochemistry of alluvial groundwaters: a potential tracer for groundwater resources characterisation. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 8, 959-972.

Widory, D. 2004. Oxygen and nitrogen isotopic fractionations during human respiration. Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences - Biologies. 327, 729-734.

Widory, D, Kloppmann, W., Chery, L., Bonnin, J., Rochdi, H., Guinamant, J.L. 2004. Nitrates in groundwater : an isotopic multi-tracer approach. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 72, 165-188.

Widory, D., Roy, S., Le Moullec, Y., Goupil, G., Cocherie, A., Guerrot C. 2004. The origin of atmospheric particles in Paris: a view through carbon and lead isotopes. Atmospheric Environment, 38, 953-961.

Widory, D. 2004. Origine des particules atmosphériques à Paris : Utilisation des isotopes du carbone et du plomb. Pollution Atmosphérique, 181, 83-92.


Widory, D., Kiyosu, Y., 2003. Isotope composition of Zelkova Serrata leaves as an indicator of atmospheric pollution in Japan. Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies, 39, 4, 281-287.

Widory, D., Javoy, M., 2003. Carbon isotopes composition of atmospheric CO2 in Paris. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 215, 289-298.

Laniel, Yancy : Maîtrise en sciences de l'environnement
Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal
Codirection : Violaine Ponsin
Sujet de recherche : Impact environnemental des activités agricoles sur la qualité de l’habitat des salamandres au mont Covey Hill.
Pei , Qiaomin : Doctorat en sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère
Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal
Codirection : Zhiyuan CONG, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Sujet de recherche : Origins and processes controling sulfur in aerosols from the Hymalayas and the Tibetan Plateau
Saar, Bruna : Stage postdoctoral
Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal
Codirection : Stéphane De Souza
Sujet de recherche : Géochimie isotopique du mercure et applications métallogéniques
Turcotte , Joanie : Maîtrise en sciences de la Terre
Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal
Sujet de recherche : Étude de la contamination atmosphérique en métaux à Cienfuegos (Cuba) à l’aide de bioindicateurs (Tillandsia recurvata L (L.))