Using CFCs and SF6 for groundwater dating : a SWOT analysis

Darling, W.G.; Gooddy, D.C.; Morris, B.L.; MacDonald, A.M. ORCID: 2010 Using CFCs and SF6 for groundwater dating : a SWOT analysis. In: Birkle, Peter; Torres-Alvarado, Ignacio, (eds.) Water-rock interaction XIII. CRC Press, 15-22.

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A knowledge of the residence time of groundwater is of importance in understanding key issues in the evolution of water quality. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) offer a convenient way of dating waters up to ~60 yrs old. In contrast to tritium, these gases are well-mixed in the atmosphere so their input functions are much less problematic. While any one of these gases can in principle provide a groundwater age, when two or more are measured on water samples the potential exists to distinguish between different modes of flow including piston flow, exponential flow and simple endmember mixing. As with all groundwater dating methods, caveats apply. Factors such as recharge temperature and elevation must be reasonably well-constrained. Mainly for SF6, the phenomenon of ‘excess air’ also requires consideration. Mainly for the CFCs, local sources of contamination need to be considered, as do redox conditions. For both SF6 and the CFCs, the nature and thickness of the unsaturated zone need to be factored into residence time calculations. This paper attempts a balanced look at the pros and cons of the trace-gas dating method.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Groundwater Science
ISBN: 9780415604260
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Environmental tracers, Groundwater dating, CFCs, SF6
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
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Date made live: 08 Sep 2010 12:20 +0 (UTC)

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