A graphical method is described for identifying geochemical reactions needed in the interpretation of radiocarbon age in groundwater systems. Graphs are constructed by plotting the measured 14C, δ13C, and concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon and are interpreted according to specific criteria to recognize water samples that are consistent with a wide range of processes, including geochemical reactions, carbon isotopic exchange, 14C decay, and mixing of waters. The graphs are used to provide a qualitative estimate of radiocarbon age, to deduce the hydrochemical complexity of a groundwater system, and to compare samples from different groundwater systems. Graphs of chemical and isotopic data from a series of previously-published groundwater studies are used to demonstrate the utility of the approach. Ultimately, the information derived from the graphs is used to improve geochemical models for adjustment of radiocarbon ages in groundwater systems.
Additional publication details
A graphical method to evaluate predominant geochemical processes occurring in groundwater systems for radiocarbon dating