Bicontinuum models and rate-limited mass transfer (RLMT) explain complex transport behavior (e.g., long tailing and rebound) in heterogeneous geologic media, but experimental verification is problematic because geochemical samples represent the mobile component of the pore space. Here, we present geophysical evidence of RLMT at the field scale during an aquifer-storage and recovery experiment in a fractured limestone aquifer in Charleston, South Carolina. We observe a hysteretic relation between measurements of porefluid conductivity and bulk electrical conductivity; this hysteresis contradicts advective-dispersive transport and the standard petrophysical model relating pore-fluid and bulk conductivity, but can be explained by considering bicontinuum transport models that include first-order RLMT. Using a simple numerical model, we demonstrate that geoelectrical measurements are sensitive to bicontinuum transport and RLMT parameters, which are otherwise difficult to infer from direct, hydrologic measurements. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Geoelectrical evidence of bicontinuum transport in groundwater