Constraining age distributions of groundwater from public supply wells in diverse hydrogeological settings in Scania, Sweden

Maria Åkesson, Axel Suckow, Ate Visser, Jürgen Sültenfuβ, Troels Laier, Roland Purtschert, Charlotte J. Sparrenbom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Twenty-five public supply wells throughout the hydrogeologically diverse region of Scania, southern Sweden are subjected to environmental tracer analysis (3H-3He, 4He, CFCs, SF6 and for one well only also 85Kr and 39Ar) to study well and aquifer vulnerability and evaluate possibilities of groundwater age distribution assessment. We find CFC and SF6 concentrations well above solubility equilibrium with modern atmosphere, indicating local contamination, as well as indications of CFC degradation. The tracer-specific complications considerably constrain possibilities for sound quantitative regional groundwater age distribution assessments and demonstrate the importance of initial qualitative assessment of tracer-specific reliability, as well a need for additional, complementary tracers (e.g. 85Kr, 39Ar and potentially also 14C). Lumped parameter modelling yields credible age distribution assessments for representative wells in four type aquifers. Pollution vulnerability of the aquifer types was based on the selected LPM models and qualitative age characterisation. Most vulnerable are unconfined dual porosity and fractured bedrock aquifers, due to a large component of very young groundwater. Unconfined sedimentary aquifers are vulnerable due to young groundwater and a small pre-modern component. Less vulnerable are semi-confined sedimentary or dual-porosity aquifers, due to older age of the modern component and a larger pre-modern component. Confined aquifers appear least vulnerable, due an entirely pre-modern groundwater age distribution (recharged before 1963). Tracer complications aside, environmental tracer analyses and lumped parameter modelling aid in vulnerability assessment and protection of regional groundwater resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • Environmental tracers
  • Groundwater
  • Groundwater age
  • Lumped parameter modelling
  • Pollution vulnerability
  • Scania

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


Dive into the research topics of 'Constraining age distributions of groundwater from public supply wells in diverse hydrogeological settings in Scania, Sweden'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this