Dispersive transport of groundwater solutes was investigated as part of a multispecies reactive tracer test conducted under spatially variable chemical conditions in an unconfined, sewage-contaminated sand and gravel aquifer on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Transport of the nonreactive tracer bromide (Br) reflected physical and hydrologic processes. Transport of the reactive tracer nickel (Ni) complexed with an organic ligand (NiEDTA) varied in response to pH and other chemical conditions within the aquifer. A loss of about 14% of the Ni mass was calculated from the distribution of tracers through time. This loss is consistent with reversible adsorption of NiEDTA onto the iron and aluminum oxyhydroxide coatings on the aquifer sediments. The Ni consistently lagged behind Br with a calculated retardation coefficient of 1.2. Longitudinal dispersivities reached constant values of 2.2 and 1.1 m for Br and Ni, respectively, by at least 69 m of travel. The smaller dispersivity for Ni possibly was due to nonlinear or spatially variant adsorption of NiEDTA. In the upper, uncontaminated zone of the aquifer, longitudinal dispersion of Ni was greater than that of Br early in the test as a result of reversible adsorption of NiEDTA. In general, transverse dispersivities were much smaller (horizontal: 1.4-1.5 ?? 10-2 m; vertical: 0.5-3.8 ?? 10-3 m) than the longitudinal dispersivities. The Br results are similar to those from a test conducted eight years earlier, suggesting that transport parameters are spatially stationary within the aquifer at the scale of 300 m covered by the spatially overlapping tests. A significant difference between the two tests was the travel distance (69 and 26 m) needed to reach a constant longitudinal dispersivity.
Additional publication details
Multispecies reactive tracer test in an aquifer with spatially variable chemical conditions, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Dispersive transport of bromide and nickel