Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is primarily of anthropogenic origin but also occurs naturally. The troposphere concentration of SF6 has increased from a steady state value of 0.054 ?? 0.009 to more than 4 parts per trillion volume during the past 40 years. An analytical procedure was developed for measuring concentrations of SF6 to less than 0.01 fmol/L in water. Groundwater can be dated with SF6 if it is in equilibrium with atmospheric SF6 at the time of recharge and does not contain significant SF6 from other sources. The dating range of SF6 is currently 0 to 30 years. The tracer was successfully used to date shallow groundwater of the Atlantic Coastal Plain sand aquifers of the United States and springs issuing near the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Significant concentrations of naturally occurring SF6 were found in some igneous, volcanic, and sedimentary rocks and in some hydrothermal fluids.
Additional publication details
Dating young groundwater with sulfur hexafluoride: Natural and anthropogenic sources of sulfur hexafluoride