pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 330–347 | Cite as

Estimation of the percentage of annual groundwater recharge with bomb tritium using a cumulative mass balance method

  • Boniface C. E. Egboka
  • John A. Cherry
  • Robert N. Farvolden


The bomb tritium (3H) distribution patterns in the aquifer beneath an abandoned landfill at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, Ontario, and in a sandy aquifer at Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishments (WNRE) Pinawa, Manitoba, all in Canada, were delineated in great detail. A sampling and monitoring network of multilevel samplers and bundle piezometers were used. The directions of groundwater flow were established, and the boundary between the tritiated and non-tritiated zones of the two aquifers were closely demarcated. Using a cumulative mass balance method, the3H input mass into the aquifers was compared with the3H mass in groundwater storage to estimate the percentages of annual groundwater recharge from 1953 to 1978. Two recharge calculations for theeffective recharge zone and thetotal recharge area of the aquifers as established from the flownet analysis, and the distributions of dissolved geochemical constitutents showed that theeffective recharge zone calculations gave higher values of 30.6 cm/yr for CFB Borden and 20.1 cm/yr for WNRE while thetotal recharge areas gave lower values of 19.1 and 10.1 cm/yr for the Borden and WNRE aquifers respectively. The two recharge values provide possible minimum and maximum recharge estimates for the two study areas.

Key words

Groundwater recharge Bomb tritium in groundwater 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boniface C. E. Egboka
    • 1
  • John A. Cherry
    • 2
  • Robert N. Farvolden
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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