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  1. Using 81Kr-age of groundwater in the Guarani Aquifer, Brazil, to constrain estimates of continental degassing flux of 4He (United States)

    Aggarwal, P. K.; Matsumoto, T.; Sturchio, N. C.; Chang, H. K.; Gastmans, D.; Lu, Z.; Jiang, W.; Müller, P.; Yokochi, R.; Han, L.; Klaus, P.; Torgersen, T.


    Continental degassing flux of helium is the dominant component of dissolved helium in deep groundwater together with that produced in-situ in the aquifer. A reliable estimate of the degassing flux is critical to the use of 4He as a dating tool in groundwater studies. The degassing flux is also important for understanding fluid and heat transport in the mantle and the rust. An independent tracer of groundwater age is required in order to deconvolute the two signals of the external, degassing flux and in situ production. Estimates of degassing flux mostly have relied upon shorter-lived radionuclides such as 14C and tritium and the resulting flux estimates have a significant variability (Torgersen, 2010). In the Guarani Aquifer in Brazil, an effective crustal 4He degassing flux into the aquifer was estimated from 81Kr ages ranging from about 70 Ka to 570 Ka. We then used the model framework of Toregesen and Ivey (1985), modified to include a diffusive reduction of originally uniform crustal helium flux from basement rocks through a thick sedimentary layer beneath the aquifer, to calculate a distribution of radiogenic 4He within the aquifer. With this framework, we obtain 4He ages that are consistent with ages based on 81Kr and 14C, and with a crustal degassing flux equivalent to that estimated from U and Th contents in the crust. The model framework for the Guarani Aquifer is also applied to data from other deep aquifers in Africa and Australia and our results suggest that the continental flux of 4He may be uniform, at least in stable continental areas. Additionally, a reliable estimate of the 4He degassing flux also helps to constrain the surficial discharge of deep groundwater.