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The Ribe Formation is a regionally extensive Miocene sand aquifer that is present in western Denmark at depths ranging from 100 to 300 m below ground surface. Groundwater chemistry and isotope data collected from more than 40 wells show that the Ribe Formation mainly contains high quality Ca-bicarbonate type groundwater of Holocene age (100–10 000 a bp). Pleistocene age groundwaters, identified on the basis of stable isotopes, noble gases and corrected 14C values, are present below the island of Rømø, in discharge areas near the coast, and in hydraulically isolated inland areas. The groundwater age distribution in the Ribe Formation was successfully simulated with a numerical groundwater flow model and particle tracking only when the 14C content in groundwater was corrected for both geochemical reactions and diffusion. The results indicate that geochemical and physical processes significantly influence the 14C content of groundwater and that the correction factors required for the two processes are of the same magnitude. Flow modelling results indicate that Pleistocene groundwaters were emplaced at depth within the Ribe Fromation under low base-level conditions that prevailed throughout the late Pleistocene – near the coast these waters are essentially isolated from the present flow system, and Pleistocene freshwater may be present offshore. Seismic surveys show that conditions offshore are favourable for the presence of Pleistocene freshwater within the Ribe Formation and other aquifers.

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