A new tracer‐density criterion for heterogeneous porous media

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



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 type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A new tracer‐density criterion for heterogeneous porous media
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/2000WR900287
Volume 37
Issue 1
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 11 p.
First page 21
Last page 31
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