Fourth Meeting (Additional Meeting): 13th July, 1909.
Present: Mr. Edgar R. Waite, President, in the chair, and seventy others.
New Members.—Messrs. Joshua Little and George H. Parkinson.
Paper.—“On the Radio-activity of the Christchurch Artesian Waters, and some Evidence of its Effect upon Fish,” by C. Coleridge Farr, D.Sc., and D. C. H. Florance, M.A., M.Sc.
In this paper, which was the special business of the meeting, the authors give an account of some investigations into the radio-activity of the Christchurch artesian system, and find that all the wells examined contain radium emanation in considerable quantities as compared with waters examined by Curie and Laborde (C.R., vol. 142, p. 1464) and others in Europe.
To ascertain whether any effect upon trout was to be ascribed to radium emanation, inquiries were made and experiments conducted which show that the Christchurch water is fatal to a large proportion of healthy fish if these be confined near the outflow from the well; and that in a considerable number of those not dying, pop-eye results. Neither death nor pop-eye supervene if the water has run a short distance in an open channel. Experiments by the authors show that the radium emanation escapes very rapidly from the water. Marsh and Gorham (1904; “Report of the Bureau of Fisheries,” p. 345) ascribe somewhat similar effects to an excess of nitrogen; and an examination (at the request of the authors) of the gases contained in the waters by Mr. G. Gray, F.C.S., shows a slight excess of nitrogen over the saturation amount. The authors contend that it is still an open question. Experiments made by the Acclimatisation Society with the authors show that the death of trout-ova in the hatching-boxes fell off as these were removed further from the well, in a manner similar to the decrease of radium emanation. Further experiments are in progress.
The paper was illustrated with lantern-slides and diagrams, and also with specimens of diseased fish.
A long discussion followed, in which the following took part: the President, Drs. Chilton, Gibson, Moorhouse, Evans, and Talbot, and Messrs. G. Gray and Kuhn.