Recent work indicates that processes controlling solute mass transfer between mobile and less mobile domains in porous media may be quantified by combining electrical geophysical methods and electrically conductive tracers. Whereas direct geochemical measurements of solute preferentially sample the mobile domain, electrical geophysical methods are sensitive to changes in bulk electrical conductivity (bulk EC) and therefore sample EC in both the mobile and immobile domains. Consequently, the conductivity difference between direct geochemical samples and remotely sensed electrical geophysical measurements may provide an indication of mass transfer rates and mobile and immobile porosities in situ. Here we present (1) an overview of a theoretical framework for determining parameters controlling mass transfer with electrical resistivity in situ; (2) a review of a case study estimating mass transfer processes in a pilot-scale aquifer storage recovery test; and (3) an example application of this method for estimating mass transfer in watershed settings between streams and the hyporheic corridor. We demonstrate that numerical simulations of electrical resistivity studies of the stream/hyporheic boundary can help constrain volumes and rates of mobile-immobile mass transfer. We conclude with directions for future research applying electrical geophysics to understand field-scale transport in aquifer and fluvial systems subject to rate-limited mass transfer.
Additional publication details
Electrical characterization of non-Fickian transport in groundwater and hyporheic systems