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In regions where ground water is generally younger than about 30 years, developing the tritium input history of an area for comparison with the current tritium content of ground water allows quantitative estimates of minimum ground-water age. The tritium input history for central Wisconsin has been constructed using precipitation tritium measured at Madison, Wisconsin and elsewhere. Weighted tritium inputs to ground water reached a peak of over 2,000 TU in 1964, and have declined since that time to about 20-30 TU at present. In the Buena Vista basin in central Wisconsin, most ground-water samples contained elevated levels of tritium, and estimated minimum ground-water ages in the basin ranged from less than one year to over 33 years. Ground water in mapped recharge areas was generally younger than ground water in discharge areas, and estimated ground-water ages were consistent with flow system interpretations based on other data. Estimated minimum ground-water ages increased with depth in areas of downward ground-water movement. However, water recharging through thick moraine sediments was older than water in other recharge areas, reflecting slower infiltration through the sandy till of the moraine.
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Tritium as an indicator of ground-water age in Central Wisconsin