Geostatistical analysis of tritium, groundwater age and other noble gas derived parameters in California

A. Visser, J. E. Moran, Darren Hillegonds, M. J. Singleton, Justin T. Kulongoski, Kenneth Belitz, B. K. Esser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Key characteristics of California groundwater systems related to aquifer vulnerability, sustainability, recharge locations and mechanisms, and anthropogenic impact on recharge are revealed in a spatial geostatistical analysis of a unique data set of tritium, noble gases and other isotopic analyses unprecedented in size at nearly 4000 samples.The correlation length of key groundwater residence time parameters varies between tens of kilometers (3H; age) to the order of a hundred kilometers (4Heter; 14C; 3Hetrit). The correlation length of parameters related to climate, topography and atmospheric processes is on the order of several hundred kilometers (recharge temperature; δ18O). Young groundwater ages that highlight regional recharge areas are located in the eastern San Joaquin Valley, in the southern Santa Clara Valley Basin, in the upper LA basin and along unlined canals carrying Colorado River water, showing that much of the recent recharge in central and southern California is dominated by river recharge and managed aquifer recharge. Modern groundwater is found in wells with the top open intervals below 60 m depth in the southeastern San Joaquin Valley, Santa Clara Valley and Los Angeles basin, as the result of intensive pumping and/or managed aquifer recharge operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-330
Number of pages17
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Geostatistics
  • Groundwater
  • Noble gas
  • Tritium
  • Water age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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