The BGS is the UK's leading organisation for groundwater dating and tracing. We use a wide range of environmental agents for this work including CFCs, SF6, tritium, radiocarbon and stable isotopes.
Some of our recent work includes:
There are various reasons why it can be important to know the age of groundwater in a particular aquifer. For example: does age validate the hydrogeological concept? Is the water a mixture of different ages? Is the water sustainable or being 'mined'? Did the water recharge in pre-industrial times? Was the water recharged during the ice age, i.e. under different climatic conditions?
Some groundwater dating agents, for example radiocarbon (14C) are produced naturally in the environment and are suitable for dating waters many thousands of years old. Others, such as the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are the result of man-made inputs to the environment and are best suited to dating young groundwaters. In some cases such anthropogenic compounds can also be used to trace groundwater flowpaths.
Contact Dr George Darling for further information.