Tritium-helium 3 dating under complex conditions in hydraulically stressed areas of a buried-valley aquifer

Stephanie Dunkle Shapiro, Gary Rowe, Peter Schlosser, Andrea Ludin, Martin Stute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The 3H-3He dating method is applied in a buried-valley aquifer near Dayton, Ohio. The study area is large, not all sampling locations lie along well-defined flow paths, and existing wells with variable screen lengths and diameters are used. Reliable use of the method at this site requires addressing several complications: (1) The flow system is disturbed because of high pumping rates and induced infiltration; (2) tritium contamination is present in several areas of the aquifer; and (3) radiogenic helium concentrations are elevated in a significant number of the wells. The 3H-3He ages are examined for self-consistency by comparing the reconstructed tritium evolution to the annual weighted tritium measured in precipitation; deviations result from dispersion, tritium contamination, and mixing. The 3H-3He ages are next examined for consistency with chlorofluorocarbon ages, the agreement is poor because of degradation of CFCs. Finally, the 3H-3He ages are examined for consistency with the current understanding of local hydrologic processes; the ages are generally supported by hydrogeologic data and the results of groundwater flow modeling coupled with particle-tracking analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1180
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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