Articles | Volume 20, issue 7
Research article
29 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 29 Jul 2016

Application of tritium in precipitation and baseflow in Japan: a case study of groundwater transit times and storage in Hokkaido watersheds

Maksym A. Gusyev, Uwe Morgenstern, Michael K. Stewart, Yusuke Yamazaki, Kazuhisa Kashiwaya, Terumasa Nishihara, Daisuke Kuribayashi, Hisaya Sawano, and Yoichi Iwami

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Cited articles

Akata, N., Kakiuchi, H., Shima, H., Iyogi, T., Momoshima, N., and Hisamutsu, S.: Tritium concentrations in the atmospheric environment at Rokkasho, Japan before the final testing of the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, J. Environ. Radioact., 102, 837–842,, 2011.
Cartwright, I. and Morgenstern, U.: Transit times from rainfall to baseflow in headwater catchments estimated using tritium: the Ovens River, Australia, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 3771–3785,, 2015.
Dim, J. R., Sakura, Y., Fukami, H., and Miyakoshi, A.: Spatial characteristics of groundwater temperature in the Ishikari Lowland, Hokkaido, northern Japan: analytical and numerical applications, Hydrogeol. J., 10, 296–306, 2002.
Duvert, C., Stewart, M. K., Cendón, D. I., and Raiber, M.: Time series of tritium, stable isotopes and chloride reveal short-term variations in groundwater contribution to a stream, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 257–277,, 2016.
Geological Survey of Japan (AIST) (ed.): Seamless digital geological map of Japan 1: 200,000, 3 July 2012 version, Research Information Database DB084, Geological Survey of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, available at: (last access: 10 April 2016), 2012.
Short summary
Tritium-estimated groundwater mean transit times (MTTs) and storage volumes provide useful information for water resources management especially during droughts. In Hokkaido, we find that (1) one tritium measurement at baseflow is already sufficient to estimate MTT for some catchments, (2) the hydrogeological settings control tritium transit times of subsurface groundwater storage at baseflow, and (3) in future, one tritium measurement will be sufficient to estimate MTT in most Japanese catchments.