We explored the use of continuous waterborne electrical imaging (CWEI), in conjunction with fiber-optic distributed temperature sensor (FO-DTS) monitoring, to improve the conceptual model for uranium transport within the Columbia River corridor at the Hanford 300 Area, Washington. We first inverted resistivity and induced polarization CWEI data sets for distributions of electrical resistivity and polarizability, from which the spatial complexity of the primary hydrogeologic units was reconstructed. Variations in the depth to the interface between the overlying coarse-grained, high-permeability Hanford Formation and the underlying finer-grained, less permeable Ringold Formation, an important contact that limits vertical migration of contaminants, were resolved along ∼3 km of the river corridor centered on the 300 Area. Polarizability images were translated into lithologic images using established relationships between polarizability and surface area normalized to pore volume (Spor). The FO-DTS data recorded along 1.5 km of cable with a 1 m spatial resolution and 5 min sampling interval revealed subreaches showing (1) temperature anomalies (relatively warm in winter and cool in summer) and (2) a strong correlation between temperature and river stage (negative in winter and positive in summer), both indicative of reaches of enhanced surface water–groundwater exchange. The FO-DTS data sets confirm the hydrologic significance of the variability identified in the CWEI and reveal a pattern of highly focused exchange, concentrated at springs where the Hanford Formation is thickest. Our findings illustrate how the combination of CWEI and FO-DTS technologies can characterize surface water–groundwater exchange in a complex, coupled river-aquifer system.
Additional publication details
Use of electrical imaging and distributed temperature sensing methods to characterize surface water-groundwater exchange regulating uranium transport at the Hanford 300 Area, Washington