The age of ground water in any given sample is a distributed quantity representing distributed provenance (in space and time) of the water. Conventional analysis of tracers such as unstable isotopes or anthropogenic chemical species gives discrete or binary measures of the presence of water of a given age. Modeled ground water age distributions provide a continuous measure of contributions from different recharge sources to aquifers. A numerical solution of the ground water age equation of Ginn (1999) was tested both on a hypothetical simplified one-dimensional flow system and under real world conditions. Results from these simulations yield the first continuous distributions of ground water age using this model. Complete age distributions as a function of one and two space dimensions were obtained from both numerical experiments. Simulations in the test problem produced mean ages that were consistent with the expected value at the end of the model domain for all dispersivity values tested, although the mean ages for the two highest dispersivity values deviated slightly from the expected value. Mean ages in the dispersionless case also were consistent with the expected mean ages throughout the physical model domain. Simulations under real world conditions for three dispersivity values resulted in decreasing mean age with increasing dispersivity. This likely is a consequence of an edge effect. However, simulations for all three dispersivity values tested were mass balanced and stable demonstrating that the solution of the ground water age equation can provide estimates of water mass density distributions over age under real world conditions.
|Title||Modeled ground water age distributions|
|Authors||Linda R. Woolfenden, Timothy R. Ginn|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Ground Water|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||California Water Science Center|