Tritium as a tracer for the movement of surface water and groundwater in the Glatt Valley, Switzerland Academic Article uri icon


  • A pulse of tritiated water (~500 Ci) accidentally discharged by an isotope processing plant in the Glatt River Valley, northern Switzerland, allowed us to observe the migration of a contaminant pulse through a sewage treatment plant, rivers, and various wells of infiltrated groundwater. The accident pointed to various memory effects of the tritium, which acted as a conservative tracer. Tritium concentrations in surface water and groundwater were used to test predictions for the transport of conservative anthropogenic trace contaminants accidentally discharged into the sewer system. Mass balance calculations indicate that about 2-10% of the tritium pulse infiltrated to the groundwater and about 0.5% of the total reached eight major drinking water wells of this densely populated area. In spite of the complex hydrogeology of the lower Glatt River Valley, tritium breakthrough curves could be effectively simulated with modeling approaches developed from an experimental well field. 1987, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Environmental Science & Technology

author list (cited authors)

  • Santschi, P. H., Hoehn, E., Lueck, A., & Farrenkothen, K.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Santschi, Peter H||Hoehn, Eduard||Lueck, Alfred||Farrenkothen, Klaus

publication date

  • September 1987