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On Single Well Forced Gradient Tracer Tests: Implications of Aquifer Physical Heterogeneity and Tracer Behaviour

Barns, Gareth L (2010) On Single Well Forced Gradient Tracer Tests: Implications of Aquifer Physical Heterogeneity and Tracer Behaviour. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Single well forced gradient tracer tests are a potential cost-effective approach to estimate in situ aquifer contaminant fate and transport parameters for use in natural attenuation assessments and remediation schemes. To date dipole flow tracer tests have been used to measure the conservative and hydraulic parameters of an aquifer, while push-pull tests are well characterised for use with biodegrading tracers. The effect of typical aquifer physical heterogeneity on the ability of single well tests to successfully estimate parameters has not yet been characterised. Also, the ability of single well tests to accurately and quickly measure aquifer parameters using tracer mixtures should be analysed. To investigate the effect of physical heterogeneity on single well tests scaled down ultraviolet imaging experiments were performed in a low profile box. Potential tracers for use in mixtures were investigated through column and batch experiments: Inorganic anions and fluorescein, inorganic cations, acetate and trichlorofluoroethene were considered to measure conservative transport parameters, cation exchange capacity, biodegradation potential and hydrophobic sorption respectively. Numerical modelling was used to simulate reactive tracer signals in single well forced gradient tests. Results suggest that dipole flow tracer tests are appropriate for measuring conservative transport parameters and the sorption of lowly retarded tracers, but are not highly suitable for biodegrading tracers. Tests could be performed with non-recirculating flow, allowing simpler modelling, if equal injection and extraction flow rates could be ensured. Push-pull tests are suitable for biodegrading tracers and moderate to highly retarded tracers. This limits the potential to use reactive tracer mixtures in these tests. Dipole flow tracer test breakthrough curves are highly susceptible to heterogeneity, and could be used to identify discrete permeability variations in aquifers. The effect of heterogeneity is not significant on push-pull test breakthrough curves, but seriously affects tracer plume migration. Inorganic anions provided the most reliable conservative tracer. Trichlorofluoroethene was found to be a suitable tracer to measure hydrophobic sorption. The biodegradation surrogate chosen for a field test should biodegrade similarly to the contaminant under study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Tracer tests, aquifer, imaging, pollutant migration, physical heterogeneity
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Engineering (Sheffield) > Civil and Structural Engineering (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Gareth L Barns
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2011 09:46
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1409

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