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Application of combined Kr-81 and He-4 chronometers to the dating of old groundwater in a tectonically active region of the North China Plain
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 493:208-217 Jul 2018

Matsumoto, Takuya; Chen, Zongyu; Wei, Wen; Yang, Guo-Min; Hu, Shui-Ming; Zhang, Xiangyang

Groundwater dating by radio-krypton (81Kr; half-life of about 229,000 years) was applied to the sedimentary basin aquifer of the North China Plain (NCP). Krypton gas extracted from deep groundwater in the Coastal Plain was analyzed for 81Kr/Kr ratios by Atom Trap Trace Analysis, which yielded normalized ratios of 0.05 to 0.20, corresponding to groundwater residence times of 0.5–1 million years. Helium isotope compositions were determined on groundwater samples collected from the Central Plain and the Coastal Plain along a flow path of about 200 km. Helium dissolved in the groundwater samples are a mixture of atmospheric, crustal radiogenic and mantle derived sources. Mantle derived 3He contributes up to 30% of the total, and the area of occurrence coincides with zones of previous magmatic/tectonic activities. By contrast, >90% of 4He is derived from crustal reservoirs and correlates with 81Kr ages. The absolute groundwater ages (81Kr) and radiogenic 4He concentrations permit us to calibrate the 4He flux into the aquifer as well as the vertical diffusion rate of 4He to utilize the radiogenic 4He in groundwater as a quantitative age tracer. Previously, groundwater showed 14C activities near the limit of detection (30–40 k yr), in contrast Kr and radiogenic 4He data reveal progressively older ages from the recharge area to the Coastal Plain, from <20,000 yr to 0.5 to 1 Ma along the flow path of the NCP aquifers.

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