Using 18O/2H, 3H/3He, 85Kr and CFCs to determine mean residence times and water origin in the Grazer and Leibnitzer Feld groundwater bodies (Austria)

Kralik, M.; Humer, F.; Fank, J.; Harum, T.; Klammler, G.; Gooddy, D.; Sültenfuß, J.; Gerber, C.; Purtschert, R.. 2014 Using 18O/2H, 3H/3He, 85Kr and CFCs to determine mean residence times and water origin in the Grazer and Leibnitzer Feld groundwater bodies (Austria). Applied Geochemistry, 50. 150-163.

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Two groundwater bodies, Grazer Feld and Leibnitzer Feld, with surface areas of 166 and 103 km2 respectively are characterised for the first time by measuring the combination of δ18O/δ2H, 3H/3He, 85Kr, CFC-11, CFC-12 and hydrochemistry in 34 monitoring wells in 2009/2010. The timescales of groundwater recharge have been characterised by 131 δ18O measurements of well and surface water sampled on a seasonal basis. Most monitoring wells show a seasonal variation or indicate variable contributions of the main river Mur (0–30%, max. 70%) and/or other rivers having their recharge areas in higher altitudes. Combined δ18O/δ2H-measurements indicate that 65–75% of groundwater recharge in the unusual wet year of 2009 was from precipitation in the summer based on values from the Graz meteorological station. Monitoring wells downstream of gravel pit lakes show a clear evaporation trend. A boron–nitrate differentiation plot shows more frequent boron-rich water in the more urbanised Grazer Feld and more frequent nitrate-rich water in the more agricultural used Leibnitzer Feld indicating that a some of the nitrate load in the Grazer Feld comes from urban sewer water. Several lumped parameter models based on tritium input data from Graz and monthly data from the river Mur (Spielfeld) since 1977 yield a Mean Residence Time (MRT) for the Mur-water itself between 3 and 4 years in this area. Data from δ18O, 3H/3He measurements at the Wagna lysimeter station supports the conclusion that 90% of the groundwaters in the Grazer Feld and 73% in the Leibnitzer Feld have MRTs of <5 years. Only in a few groundwaters were MRTs of 6–10 or 11–25 years as a result of either a long-distance water inflow in the basins or due to longer flow path in somewhat deeper wells (>20 m) with relative thicker unsaturated zones. The young MRT of groundwater from two monitoring wells in the Leibnitzer Feld was confirmed by 85Kr-measurements. Most CFC-11 and CFC-12 concentrations in the groundwater exceed the equilibration concentrations of modern concentrations in water and are therefore unsuitable for dating purposes. An enrichment factor up to 100 compared to atmospheric equilibrium concentrations and the obvious correlation of CFC-12 with SO4, Na, Cl and B in the ground waters of the Grazer Feld suggest that waste water in contact with CFC-containing material above and below ground is the source for the contamination. The dominance of very young groundwater (<5 years) indicates a recent origin of the contamination by nitrate and many other components observed in parts of the groundwater bodies. Rapid measures to reduce those sources are needed to mitigate against further deterioration of these waters.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 08832927
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Groundwater dating
Date made live: 06 Mar 2015 13:33 +0 (UTC)

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