Regional-Scale Distribution of Helium Isotopes in Aquifers: How Informative Are They as Groundwater Tracers and Chronometers?

Pinti, Daniele Luigi; Larocque, Marie; Méjean, Pauline; Saby, Marion; Hernández-Hernández, Mario Alberto; Gagné, Sylvain; Roulleau, Emilie; Sano, Yuji; Castro, Maria Clara; Matsumoto, Takuya et Horoi, Viorel (2022). « Regional-Scale Distribution of Helium Isotopes in Aquifers: How Informative Are They as Groundwater Tracers and Chronometers? ». Water, 14(121940).

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This study presents an almost entirely unpublished dataset of 121 samples of groundwater analyzed for helium concentration and its isotopic ratio (3He/4He) in two adjacent watersheds of the St. Lawrence Lowlands, in a region with intensive agricultural activities in the southern Québec Province, Eastern Canada. Most of the samples were collected in the regional bedrock fractured aquifer hosted in mid-Ordovician siliciclastic shales, on a total surface of 7500 km2. Even with this low-density sampling, and in a heterogeneous and fractured aquifer, the helium isotopes bring precious information on the recharge conditions and on chemical evolution of water. The helium spatial interpolation does not show a clear isotopic gradient through the basin. However, it shows progressive enrichment of radiogenic 4He in the confined part of the aquifer. The atmospheric and/or tritiogenic-rich helium occurs at the recharge in the Appalachians and in the middle of the plain, where impermeable cover is limited, and local infiltration of meteoric freshwater reaches the bedrock aquifer. The relation between the total dissolved solids (TDS) and 3He/4He ratios remains elusive. However, on discriminating the samples with the dominant chemistry of water, a clear trend is observed with 3He/4He ratio, suggesting that radiogenic 4He accumulates together with dissolved solids and with increasing time (indicated by progressively older 14C ages). Finally, the noble gas temperatures (NGTs) obtained from concentrations of the other noble gases (Ne, Ar, Kr and Xe) brings constraints on the earlier recharge conditions during the Holocene. Particularly, the NGTs showed that the studied aquifers were continuously replenished, even under ice-sheet cover in the last 10,000 years.

Type: Article de revue scientifique
Informations complémentaires: Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Mots-clés ou Sujets: recharge, groundwater age, helium isotopes, 14C, noble gas paleotemperatures
Unité d'appartenance: Centres institutionnels > Centre de recherche en géochimie et géodynamique (GEOTOP)
Faculté des sciences > Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère
Déposé par: Marie Larocque
Date de dépôt: 29 août 2022 13:23
Dernière modification: 29 août 2022 13:23
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