Tritium (3H), a rare but naturally occurring hydrogen isotope, arises from cosmic rays interacting with the Earth’s atmospheric gases. However, because of its relatively short half-life (12.3 years), tritium produced in this manner does not accumulate over geological timescales, and its natural abundance is negligible.

Tritium is also produced in nuclear reactions, hence there was a large peak in atmospheric tritium concentration in the 1960s and early 1970s is due to nuclear weapons testing.

Age-dating using tritium is based on the radioactive decay of tritium to helium-3 (3He) after rainwater penetrates the ground during recharge. Because of the irregularly shaped bomb peak, tritium data can often give ambiguous ages. Often this may be resolved by measuring the change in tritium concentration over a time interval of a few years, or by comparison to CFC and SF6 ages.

Please note: we do not accept “hot” samples. We operate a low level tritium analysis facility.

Download: Sampling_Instructions_Tritium.pdf (233.21 kB)