An experiment was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey to determine the feasibility of using a radioactive substance as a tracer in the study of microscopic flow in a saturated porous solid. A radioactive tracer was chosen in preference to dye or other chemical in order to eliminate effects of the tracer itself on the flow system such as those relating to density, viscosity and surface tension. The porous solid was artificial "sandstone" composed of uniform fine grains of sand bonded together with an epoxy adhesive. The sides of the block thus made were sealed with an epoxy coating compound to insure water-tightness. Because of the chemical inertness of the block it was possible to use radioactive phosphorus (P32). Ion-exchange equilibrium was created between the block and nonradioactive phosphoric acid. Then a tracer tagged with P32 was injected into the block in the desired geometric configuration, in this case, a line source. After equilibrium in isotopic exchange was reached between the block and the line source, the block was rinsed, drained and sawn into slices. It was found that a quantitative analysis of the flow system may be made by assaying the dissected block. ?? 1961.
Additional Publication Details
Radio-tracer techniques for the study of flow in saturated porous materials
International Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes