Helium transfer from water into quartz crystals: A new approach for porewater dating

Tolstikhin, I.; Gannibal, M.; Tarakanov, S.; Pevzner, B.; Lehmann, B.E.; Ihly, B.; Waber, H.N. (2005). Helium transfer from water into quartz crystals: A new approach for porewater dating. Earth and planetary science letters, 238(1-2), pp. 31-41. Elsevier 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.07.017

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Several important fundamental and applied problems require a quantification of slow rates of groundwater flow. To resolve these problems helium appears to be a promising tracer. In this contribution we discuss a new approach, which gives the helium inventory in a rock – pore water system by using the relevant mineral record, i.e., without extraction and investigation of the porewater samples. Some U- and Th-poor minerals such as quartz (quartz separates from Permo-Carboniferous Formation, sandstone–shale interlayering, Molasses Basin, Northern Switzerland, hereafter PCF, are used in this study) contain excessive helium having migrated into their internal helium-accessible volume (HAV) from the surrounding porewater [I.N. Tolstikhin, B.E. Lehmann, H.H. Loosli, A. Gautschi, Helium and argon isotopes in rocks, minerals and related groundwaters: a case study in Northern Switzerland, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 60 (1996) 1497–1514]. These volumes are estimated by using helium as a nano-size penetrating tool, i.e., by saturation of the minerals with helium under controlled pressure–temperature conditions and subsequent measurements of the helium-saturated concentrations. In the quartz separates HAV/total volume ratios vary from 0.017% to 0.16%; along with the measured initial (unsaturated) He concentration the HAV gives the internal helium pressure, the mean value obtained for 7 samples (25 sample aliquots) is P=0.45F0.15 atm (1 r). The product of helium pressure and solubility (7.35_10_3 cc STP He/cc H2O for the temperature and salinity of PCF aquifers reported in [F.J. Pearson, W. Balderer, H.H. Loosli, B.E. Lehmann, A. Matter, T. Peters, H. Schmassmann, A. Gautschi, Applied Isotope Hydrogeology–A Case Study in Northern Switzerland, Elsevier Amsterdam, 1991, 439 pp.]) is the mineral-derived He concentration in the respective porewater, CPW=0.0035F0.0017 cc He/cc H2O. This value is in full accord with measured He concentrations in PCF aquifers, CPCF, varying from 0.0045 to 0.0016 cc He/cc H2O. This agreement validates the proposed approach and also shows that the mineral–porewater helium–concentration equilibrium has been established. Indeed, estimates of the He-migration rates through our quartz samples show that in ~6000 years the internal pressure should equilibrate with He-concentration in related porewater of PCF, and this time interval is short compared to independent estimates [I.N. Tolstikhin, B.E. Lehmann, H.H. Loosli, A. Gautschi, Helium and argon isotopes in rocks, minerals and related groundwaters: a case study in Northern Switzerland, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 60 (1996) 1497–1514]. The helium inventory in the rock–porewater assemblage shows that helium abundance in pore waters is indeed important. In shale samples (with ~15% porosity) porewaters contain more helium than the host minerals altogether. Porewater heliumconcentration profiles, available from the mineral record, along with helium production rates are input parameters allowing model(s) of helium migration through a hydrological structure to be developed. Quite high helium concentrations in PCF porewaters imply slow removal mechanisms, which will be discussed elsewhere.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Rock-Water Interaction

UniBE Contributor:

Waber, Niklaus

Subjects:

500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

0012-821X

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Niklaus Waber

Date Deposited:

27 Oct 2014 08:19

Last Modified:

12 Dec 2014 14:38

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.epsl.2005.07.017

Uncontrolled Keywords:

helium, isotope, nano-geochemistry, mineral, quartz, porewater, concentration equilibrium, residence time, groundwater flow rate

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.59357

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/59357

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