A multi-tracer study of groundwater origin and transit-time in the aquifers of the Venice region (Italy)

Mayer, A.; Sültenfuß, J.; Travi, Y.; Rebeix, R.; Purtschert, R.; Claude, C.; Le Gal La Salle, C.; Miche, H.; Conchetto, E. (2014). A multi-tracer study of groundwater origin and transit-time in the aquifers of the Venice region (Italy). Applied geochemistry, 50, pp. 177-198. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.10.009

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Located in the northeastern region of Italy, the Venetian Plain (VP) is a sedimentary basin containing an extensively exploited groundwater system. The northern part is characterised by a large undifferentiated phreatic aquifer constituted by coarse grain alluvial deposits and recharged by local rainfalls and discharges from the rivers Brenta and Piave. The southern plain is characterised by a series of aquitards and sandy aquifers forming a well-defined artesian multi-aquifer system. In order to determine origins, transit times and mixing proportions of different components in groundwater (GW), a multi tracer study (H, He/He, C, CFC, SF, Kr, Ar, Sr/Sr, O, H, cations, and anions) has been carried out in VP between the rivers Brenta and Piave. The geochemical pattern of GW allows a distinction of the different water origins in the system, in particular based on View the MathML source HCO3-,SO42-,Ca/Mg,NO3-, O, H. A radiogenic Sr signature clearly marks GW originated from the Brenta and Tertiary catchments. End-member analysis and geochemical modelling highlight the existence of a mixing process involving waters recharged from the Brenta and Piave rivers, from the phreatic aquifer and from another GW reservoirs characterised by very low mineralization.
Noble gas excesses in respect to atmospheric equilibrium occur in all samples, particularly in the deeper aquifers of the Piave river, but also in phreatic water of the undifferentiated aquifers. He–H ages in the phreatic aquifer and in the shallower level of the multi-aquifer system indicate recharge times in the years 1970–2008. The progression of H–He ages with the distance from the recharge areas together with initial tritium concentration (H + Hetrit) imply an infiltration rate of about 1 km/y and the absence of older components in these GW. SF and Kr data corroborate these conclusions. H − He ages in the deeper artesian aquifers suggest a dilution process with older, tritium free waters. C Fontes–Garnier model ages of the old GW components range from 1 to 12 ka, yielding an apparent GW velocity of about 1–10 m/y. Increase of radiogenic He follows the progression of C ages. Ar, radiogenic He and C tracers yield model-dependent age-ranges in overall good agreement once diffusion of C from aquitards, GW dispersion, lithogenic Ar production, and He production-rate heterogeneities are taken into account. The rate of radiogenic He increase with time, deduced by comparison with C model ages, is however very low compared to other studies. Comparison with C and C data obtained 40 years ago on the same aquifer system shows that exploitation of GW caused a significant loss of the old groundwater reservoir during this time.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics

UniBE Contributor:

Purtschert, Roland


500 Science > 530 Physics








Doris Rätz

Date Deposited:

29 Jan 2015 10:48

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:39

Publisher DOI:






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