Determination of groundwater flow regimes in underground storage caverns using tritium and helium isotopes

Jeonghoon Lee, Byeongju Jung, Jun Mo Kim, Kyung Seok Ko, Ho Wan Chang

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11 Scopus citations


Understanding groundwater flow and chemical transport is crucial for operating underground storage caverns. Groundwater flow in the study area is mainly affected by cavern operating conditions, and groundwater chemistry in the study area is modified by disinfection activities for removing possible biological clogging and by mixing with cement pore water. It is significant to discern these two effects because wells affected by the disinfection activities, in particular, may have hydrological connections with water curtains in which disinfectant water was injected to remove the biological clogging. Concentration of tritium (3H) and helium isotopes (4He), and groundwater chemical compositions were used to confirm that there are hydrological connectivities between the water curtain and the well. Groundwater along the fault areas contains low total dissolved solid (TDS) and high 3H, suggesting that the faults may act as fast flow conduits, which is not inconsistent with previous studies. Certain diagnostic conditions (high concentrations of Na+, Cl- and TDS and high pH) are presumed by the effect of disinfection activity, indicating that there are hydrological connections between the water curtain and the wells. This hypothesis is valid in YK2U and YK2L, but is not in YK12L, implying a closed system or an immobile water to explain the isotopic results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-770
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by the Basic Research Project (10-3414) of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) and funded by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy. We also would like to thank the BK21 program of the Korean government through the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES), Seoul National University. We gratefully acknowledge the chemical analyses by Hye-On Yoon at the Korea Basic Science Institute (KBSI) and the analysis of noble gas by Doshik Hahm at the National Center for Inter-University Research Facilities (NCIRF) in the Seoul National University.


  • Cement pore water
  • Disinfection activity
  • Faults
  • Groundwater flow
  • Tritium


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