Tracer experiments provide information about aquifer material properties vital for accurate site characterization. Unfortunately, density‐induced sinking can distort tracer movement, leading to an inaccurate assessment of material properties. Yet existing criteria for selecting appropriate tracer concentrations are based on analysis of homogeneous media instead of media with heterogeneities typical of field sites. This work introduces a hydraulic‐gradient correction for heterogeneous media and applies it to a criterion previously used to indicate density‐induced instabilities in homogeneous media. The modified criterion was tested using a series of two‐dimensional heterogeneous intermediate‐scale tracer experiments and data from several detailed field tracer tests. The intermediate‐scale experimental facility (10.0×1.2×0.06 m) included both homogeneous and heterogeneous (σln k2 = 1.22) zones. The field tracer tests were less heterogeneous (0.24 < σln k2 < 0.37), but measurements were sufficient to detect density‐induced sinking. Evaluation of the modified criterion using the experiments and field tests demonstrates that the new criterion appears to account for the change in density‐induced sinking due to heterogeneity. The criterion demonstrates the importance of accounting for heterogeneity to predict density‐induced sinking and differences in the onset of density‐induced sinking in two‐ and three‐dimensional systems.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||A new tracer‐density criterion for heterogeneous porous media|
|Series title||Water Resources Research|
|Publisher||American Geophysical Union|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|