Environmental isotopes as indicators of inter-aquifer mixing, Wimmera region, Murray Basin, Southeast Australia

Ian Cartwright, Tamie Weaver, Dioni Cendon, Ian Swane

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    Complex groundwater flow systems in confined aquifers that result from geological structures, stratigraphic changes, or the absence of efficient aquitards are difficult to constrain using physical parameters alone. Despite a relatively simple aquifer configuration, the distribution of groundwater total dissolved solids (TDS) concentrations, delta C-13 values, Sr-87/Sr-86 ratios, and C-14 activities (a(14)C) in groundwater in the Wimmera region of the southern Murray Basin implies that considerable inter-aquifer flow has occurred. Given the presence of both silicate and carbonate aquifers, delta C-13 values and Sr-87/Sr-86 ratios are the key parameters that demonstrate inter-aquifer flow. Locally, between 40 and 95 of water from one aquifer has infiltrated the underlying aquifer homogenising many aspects of the groundwater geochemistry. Groundwater residence times estimated from a(14)C range from modem to >30 ka and the distribution of C-14 residence times confirm that inter-aquifer flow is regional scale and long term. Recharge of the deepest aquifers occurs across a broad region and not solely at the basin margins. Vertical leakage rates are similar to 6-10 x 10(-3) m/year and long-term recharge rates 0.1-02 mm/year (
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)214 - 226
    Number of pages13
    JournalChemical Geology
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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