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Infiltration of river water to a shallow aquifer investigated with 3H/3He, noble gases and CFCs

Noble gas isotopes (3He, 4He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe), tritium (3H), chlorofluoroca- rbons (CFCs) and dissolved oxygen (O2) were seasonally measured in a small groundwater system recharged by infiltration of river water at Linsental, northeastern Switzerland. All Groundwater samples contained an excess of atmospheric noble gases ('excess air') usually with an elemental composition equal to air. The concentrations of atmospheric noble gases in the groundwater were used to calculate the excess air component and the water temperature at recharge. The noble gas temperatures (NGTs) in the boreholes close to the river vary seasonally, however, the average NGT of all samples lies close to the mean annual temperature of the river water. Groundwater ages were calculated using the tritium/heli- um-3 (3H/3He) dating method. The water ages of the samples obtained near the river depend on the amount of recently infiltrated river water and are young during times of active river discharge. In contrast, the mean water age of about 3 years of the deep aquifer remained nearly constant over the sampling period. The observed CFC-11 (CFCl3) and CFC-12 (CF2Cl2) concentrations are significantly higher than the atmospheri- c equilibrium concentrations and therefore CFCs do not provide any direct information on the residence time of the groundwater. Nevertheless, the CFC excess in the groundwater shows a linear increase with the 3H/3He age. Additionally, both accumulation of radiogenic He (4Herad) and O2 consumption are strongly correlated with residence time. All these correlations can be interpreted either in terms of mixing of recently infiltrated river water with older groundwater or in terms of accumulation/consumption rates.

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