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Their model provides researchers a way to correct the variability caused by the natural helium emanating from the basement rock.

“Now that we’ve been able to make sense of the helium concentrations, we can apply this model to other locations, even in places where the Krypton-81 measurements don’t exist,” Sturchio said.

Building on previous work, he collaborated with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory who developed a laser atom-trap capable of counting the number of Krypton-81 atoms in groundwater. Using a method called atom-trap trace analysis, Sturchio’s research team separated the Krypton from the other dissolved gases extracted from the water, then measured the ratio of Krypton-81 to the total Krypton present.

A second set of samples was collected later and prepared for analysis by researchers at University of Bern in Switzerland.

1, 2014--Neil Sturchio, chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at University of Delaware, is co-author of a Nature Geoscience paper detailing a pioneering new technique to date groundwater.

Harrington Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Delaware with a digital tribute on its publications website.The technique involves measuring Krypton-81, a rare isotope produced by cosmic rays in the Earth’s atmosphere.Sturchio explained that as rain is absorbed into the ground, a miniscule amount of the isotope comes with it.Krypton-81, however, only comes from the atmosphere, eliminating questions about the source.The researchers developed a general model by which Krypton-81 measurements could be used to validate the Helium-4 ages for the same water samples.

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